Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick has got his position on Hannibal Mejbri all wrong
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Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick is said to have been unimpressed by Hannibal Mejbri’s recent cameo against Liverpool. The 19-year-old was introduced with six minutes left on the clock during his side’s 4-0 defeat at Anfield last month. And his manager has since punished him by demoting him – but, instead, he should have adopted a far softer approach.
Manchester United were dismal when they travelled to Liverpool last month.
A brace from Mohamed Salah and further goals from Luis Dias and Sadio Mane inflicted the Red Devils to a chastening 4-0 defeat at the home of their fierce rivals.
In the closing stages, Rangnick decided to bring on Hannibal wanting the youngster to make an impact.
And the teenager did exactly that though, it seems, not the one his manager had in mind.
ESPN reported on Friday morning that Rangnick was ‘not impressed’ with Hannibal and his undisciplined performance.
And that’s why the 19-year-old has been demoted in recent weeks, not included in the squad for matches against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Brentford.
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Instead, Hannibal is increasingly likely to see out the campaign playing for the club’s Under-23s.
However, in our eyes, that all seems rather harsh and unnecessary.
Sure, Hannibal’s performance against Liverpool wasn’t up to standards. On a sporting level, it left plenty to be desired.
However, if other United players had shown even half of his courage and desire, then perhaps the scoreline wouldn’t have been so unflattering.
Hannibal was one of the only performers who seemed like they genuinely cared. He wasn’t going to let Liverpool run rings around him, like they did his team-mates.
And there were other players on the pitch who produced far more worrying displays than the teenager.
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Take Harry Maguire, for example.
The England international was dire throughout the defeat and, though he hasn’t started since, that’s been down to injury.
Rangnick has defended Maguire consistently throughout his time at the helm but it’s arguable that he needs cracking down on, rather than his young team-mate.
Victor Lindelof was similarly abject, allowing Liverpool to constantly get in behind him.
But he’s still been picked since, instead of being demoted as a punishment.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has, in fairness, not been seen since United were outplayed by their fierce rivals.
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Yet Marcus Rashford was still allowed to start against Chelsea, despite producing a woeful display at Anfield.
Hannibal was wrong to play in the manner he did, there’s no denying that.
But it’s a matter that should require just a brief telling off, rather than a full-on demotion.
Rangnick hasn’t exactly made life easy for himself at United, with many players struggling to respond to his methods.
And this Hannibal issue, even so late into the season, is yet another problem for the German behind the scenes.
Meanwhile, Gary Neville issued an apology after hailing the 19-year-old for his cameo against Liverpool.
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And Jurgen Klopp insisted that was the right move, saying: “He had to apologise for that, rightly so. I understand where he is coming from, you want to see some aggression, but there is a difference between aggression and kicking players. That makes no sense.
“Aggression in football means you are ready to hurt yourself, not the other player. That is aggression in football.
“I don’t blame the kid [Hannibal], he came on late and the game was quick and obviously wanted to make an impression.
“He was a bit late here and a bit late there, all good.
“Aggression in football is fine but you cannot sort your own problems by hurting the opposition players, that is what I have never understood.”
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