Ralf Rangnick raised some eyebrows on Friday with his strong comments on the state of play at Manchester United.
The United interim manager spoke out harshly about the operation of the club during his Friday press conference. He likened the imminent rebuild job at Old Trafford to "open heart surgery".
On BT Sport ahead of United's make-or-break game at the Emirates against Arsenal, pundits Martin Keown and Rio Ferdinand responded to the comments from Rangnick. The pair questioned the United manager's commitment to the club, and even suggested he may leave before his two-year consultancy role even begins.
Manchester United: BT pundits question Ralf Rangnick's "open heart surgery" comments
Ralf Rangnick took over a Manchester United team in turmoil, and things have hardly improved since he arrived. The players have taken much of the fire for the club's dire form, which has seen them lose heavily to Manchester City and Liverpool in recent weeks.
Rangnick slammed the club's operations in his pre-match press conference on Friday, appearing to suggest the problems were bigger than coaching issues.
It's not about the manager's quality, it's about changing all the other things that have brought the club into the position we're in right now.
One of the very few good things about what has happened is that it's crystal clear, it's not that difficult - you don't even need glasses to analyse it and see where the problems are. So now it's only about how do we solve them?
It's not enough to do some minor amendments, minor cosmetic things - in medicine you would say this is an operation of the open heart.
Ralf Rangnick's clinical examination of Manchester United and everyone involved at the club. pic.twitter.com/5SvTrluvWM
— Red Marrow (@MedullaryRed) April 23, 2022
Rangnick's comments were surprisingly strong and damning for someone involved in such a central role at the club. It's hard to argue, however, that the operations of Manchester United have been a shambles for some time.
In the buildup to Manchester United's away game against Arsenal on Saturday afternoon, United legend Rio Ferdinand appeared alongside former Gunner Martin Keown on BT Sport's buildup.
Ferdinand laid out a rather hilariously vague six-point plan to reset the fortunes of Manchester United - which essentially amounted to "reset the fortunes of the club".
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 23, 2022
Ferdinand was also adamant that incoming manager Erik Ten Hag must be given ample time by the United board to implement his philosophy, and was happy to hear that he will be given full control over contract dealings.
Keown and Ferdinand then responded to Rangnick's comments from Friday, and questioned whether he had given up on the project at Manchester United.
Keown was unimpressed with Rangnick's attitude towards Darren Fletcher, while Ferdinand said that the German coach had gone too far with his "open heart surgery" comments.
Keown: I think Rangnick has copped out a little bit - he hasn't toed the company line. Some of the things I'm hearing him say about Darren Fletcher - what's he even doing at the club? It doesn't feel like there's the continuity I would expect - how do you do that with a new manager walking through the door?
Ferdinand: Rangnick's been here, he's played his role. I think you could look at him and say: on one hand, he's been really honest and that's refreshing to see. But, at the same time, it's got to the point where you think is he alleviating himself from having his fingerprints over such a period? [...] When you have someone speaking on behalf of the club...yes, I think there's a lot of work to do but I think 'open heart surgery' is a little bit of a step too far.
Keown: Rangnick's job was to resuscitate, wasn't it? Not 'open heart surgery'. He's come in, looked at the qualities of the group, and seemed hell bent on trying to put his beliefs on how to play the game by pressing. This group haven't got that defensive instinct - it's not within the group. [...]
Keown: It's concerning when you hear Ralf Rangnick say that he hasn't spoken to the new manager - where's this new continuity? He's going to be working at the club for the next two years.
Ferdinand: Well, maybe he won't be.
Keown: I think he's telling us he isn't.
Ralf Rangnick has certainly spoken out strongly about the misfiring Manchester United, but it would be a massive surprise to see him heading for the exit door at the end of the season.