Peter Crouch has claimed that Manchester United's shoddy recruitment work is to blame for their alarming downfall over the past few years.
Instead of dominating the Premier League as they once did, United are now floundering behind their two biggest rivals as Liverpool and Manchester City tussle for the title. And United's downfall was emphasised this week when their flops were thumped by Liverpool for the second time this season after the Reds ran riot in a 4-0drubbing at Anfield.
United were also on the end of a 5-0 demolition earlier in the season in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford – and Crouch is the latest name in football to stick the boot in after their shocking surrender against their old rivals. Speaking to Paddy Power, Crouch remarked: "It was so disappointing. I’ve never seen a group of players who get labelled so much with bad body language and poor work rate. And playing for a club like Man United, there’s just a lack of desire there. You see that in so many games but not that game!
"I played in those Liverpool v United games, the least you’d do is run until you couldn’t run anymore. We played against a United team that was unbelievable, of course we had top players, but they were better than us, but we made it as difficult as we could for them until the final whistle. And I was just watching that the other night, and it was just a sad state of affairs.
"Two huge football clubs, our two biggest – I’ve got no allegiance to United whatsoever, I played for Liverpool, my mum was a City fan – but it was just sad to see what’s happening because you want that game to be one of the battles of the old times. Where there’s fouls, cards, last minute winners. You don’t want to see one steamroller the other like that. United have just fallen so far from where they were."
Wednesday night's embarrassment was just the latest in a string of disappointing results under interim chief Ralf Rangnick, with United now facing up to the prospect of missing out on a top-four finish. Since their midweek humbling on Merseyside, Manchester United have since confirmed the appointment of Erik ten Hag as their new permanent manager, with the Dutchman set to take charge at the end of the season.
Do you think Ten Hag is the right man for Man Utd? Let us know in the comments section below.
The decision to announce the Ajax chief before the end of the Dutch season could give United a head-start on their recruitment plans ahead of a massive summer – and Crouch is adamant that their previous shortcomings in the transfer market is the "number one" reason why the club have flopped in recent years.
He added: "It’s just mismanagement top to bottom. I look at some of their transfer windows – and it might only take 3 or 4 windows to come back – but why are they buying 30 year old players on the biggest wages you could possibly pay anyone.
"Look at Liverpool’s model of buying younger, hungrier players or £20-30 million, rather than consistently paying £50,60,70 million. And when they do pay the big money, like for Van Dijk, they make sure it’s spot on. Someone like Mane is a good example of how every single player has improved since they’ve been at the club. I don’t think you can say that about one player at United. They sign a player and he goes backwards. And so I think recruitment is probably the number one issue."
Peter Crouch was speaking exclusively as an ambassador of Paddy Power.
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