Paul Scholes has branded Manchester United a “poisonous mess” while urging his former club to try and steal Antonio Conte away from Tottenham in the summer.
United have endured a miserable 2021-22 campaign so far, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer paying for the team’s poor start with his job and his interim replacement Ralf Rangnick also failing to get the best out of an enigmatic group.
The Red Devils are now in real danger of finishing outside of the top four and extending their trophyless run to five seasons, and Scholes cannot envisage the situation improving any time soon.
What did Scholes say about Manchester United?
The former United midfielder, who made over 700 appearances for the club between 1993 and 2013, has said on the Webby and O’Neill YouTube channel: “The club just feels like it’s in a mess, player, staff and manager wise. Who wants to come into this club? It feels like a right mess. It does feel poisonous.”
MORE: AFCON 2022 standings
Scholes wasn’t fininshed, blaming the players for much of the current struggles. “It has to come a point where you think, ‘Are these players good enough?'” Scholes said. “We know [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Paul] Pogba, [Raphael] Varane, [Nemanja] Matic have great experience and won trophies but the rest of the squad haven’t proven themselves to be good enough to win anything.
“Some of these players have had a lot of games now. Marcus Rashford, he’s had a lot of games, are we ever going to see these lads reach their potential? Are they ever going to be good enough to win trophies? [Harry] Maguire, is he good enough? [Victor] Lindelof, is he good enough? We keep saying how good they are but they are failing to produce what is required on the pitch.”
Scholes prefers Conte to Rangnick
Scholes went on to question Rangnick’s suitability for the top job at Old Trafford, with the former RB Leipzig and Schalke manager considered to be lacking experience at the highest level of the game.
“We have gone to a man well regarded across Europe, especially by managers who speak highly of him like [Jurgen] Klopp and [Thomas] Tuchel,” he said of the German tactician. “But he’s not had much success as a coach. He won promotion in Germany and a bit with Schalke but he has been asked to come and manage the biggest club in the world – it’s something I just cannot get my head round.”
The former Red Devils midfielder isn’t wrong. Rangnick had a successfull 2010/11 season with Schalke, winning the DFB-Pokal and reaching the semifinals of the Champions League, but left that summer due to fatigue. He took a job as sporting director at RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg jointly, and appointed himself as manager three years later, winning promotion to the Bundesliga before soon challenging for a Champions League place. While at both those German stops he overperformed compared to expectations, he still was not at a club that demanded consistent, high-level European success on a yearly basis.
“They should have the best available out there as their manager,” Scholes continued regarding Manchester United. “They haven’t got that and I find that astonishing. We should have one of the top five managers in the world. Now, Tuchel, [Pep] Guardiola and Klopp are the top three but they are unavailable, there is no chance of getting them.”
That’s when Scholes began to speculate about possibilities. “But then you look at Antonio Conte.”
Scholes sees Conte as the ideal man to turn United’s fortunes around and thinks the Italian could be persuaded to leave Spurs at the end of the season if he is not backed in the transfer market. Some people say he was not suited to United but you have seen what he is doing at Tottenham with a squad that is nowhere near as good as United’s,” he added. “He will probably challenge for the top four and United missed a trick with him. They could probably still get him from Tottenham. Tottenham fans probably won’t like me for saying that.
“You can see he is already getting frustrated with his squad of players and is asking for other stuff. Conte could do something special here, he has got the pedigree to do it. Will we be able to get him? I don’t know.”