Soccer

Ralf Rangnick picked future Man Utd captain but Brighton defeat shows he’s wrong

Brighton v Man Utd: Pictures

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Back in January, Ralf Rangnick said that Scott McTominay had the makings of a future Manchester United captain. But, after the Scotland international’s dreadful performance against Brighton on Saturday, the 63-year-old currently looks wrong. It was a chastening day at the office for everybody involved with the Red Devils and the crushing loss means their season is primed to end on a low note.

United were outran and outplayed by Brighton, who scored four times without reply to claim all three points.

Moises Caicedo put the hosts in front in the first-half, with his effort sailing past David De Gea and into the bottom corner.

And things didn’t get any better for United with further goals from Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard inflicting an 11th league defeat of the season.

There were many bad performers for the Red Devils on the day.

Raphael Varane looked terrified, Victor Lindelof was flat, Bruno Fernandes continued to regress and Anthony Elanga and Alex Telles couldn’t cope with the speed of the Brighton attack.

McTominay, however, was arguably the worst player in the pitch.

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Earlier in the season, in January, Rangnick expressed a belief the 25-year-old had the makings of a future captain.

“He is an academy boy, his energy is amazing,” he told BBC Sport after an FA Cup win over Aston Villa.

“He now also starts scoring goals and also with some leadership skills.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple of years he would be the captain of this team.”

However, the brutal truth of the matter is that McTominay shouldn’t even be a United starter.

He’s been getting into the team by default this term, with Fred better-suited to playing further ahead and Nemanja Matic waning as he prepares to leave.

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McTominay talks a good game, demonstrating leadership in that regard.

But the Scot has been off the boil all season and, against Brighton, was simply unable to cope.

McTominay won none of his ground duels vs Brighton, out of a possible seven.

And when that’s compared to Fred, who won seven of his nine during his 45-minute cameo, that speaks volumes.

Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Rangnick have all tried McTominay in a variety of different roles.

But he still looks lost out on the pitch and all three managers have failed to get him to fulfil his true potential.

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McTominay can be a useful squad player, for sure.

Yet it’s clear United require far better if they’re to reel in the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City going forward.

It’s another indictment of McTominay that he wouldn’t get into either of their rivals’ sides, even when on form.

And if he continues to be a regular in the middle of the park, then United can expect more damaging afternoons ahead.

Speaking last month, meanwhile, McTominay admitted that United had gone missing in too many matches this season.

“It is pride on the pitch – give your best, everyone,” he said.

“There are a lot of things going on at the minute. When we get back in the dressing room – it’s go home and take a look at yourself in the mirror.

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“You can’t go back to your house and be satisfied with conceding three goals away at Arsenal when we deserved to win the game.

“For us, self-belief, lack of confidence – you can see it all in the last two months.

“We had a half-decent game but even then it is the belief, which is so big in football. It is just not there.

“It is a bit of balls in your performances. That is what it comes down to – the fundamentals of football.

“It is difficult for me to speak right now because there are so many emotions.

“It comes down to the basics and we never do them well enough in big games, recently.”

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