Interim coach Ralf Rangnick insisted that the lack of clarity over who the next permanent Manchester United manager will be is no excuse for another poor performance from his side in its 1-0 defeat to Everton on Saturday.
The German interim, who had not coached a team since RB Leipzig in 2018-19, took over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November ahead of what is expected to be a two-year consultancy role from next season at the club.
But he has been unable to rouse United from their slumber. Rangnick has won just eight of his first 17 Premier League games as United boss – the lowest win percentage (47%) of any manager for the club in the competition.
It is unclear who the next permanent United manager will be, with the club insisting that no decision has been made despite British media reports that Ajax Amsterdam coach Erik ten Hag is being lined up.
"I don't see any connection between this (new manager search) and today's display, and I will not allow anyone to have this as an alibi or excuse," Rangnick told reporters.
"It doesn't matter if the new manager will be announced in five, 15 or 20 days, the players should be eager to play Champions League, but as long as we play like today they don't deserve it.
"Whenever we score first we have the confidence to win games, but when we concede first we lose our way a bit. If you don't score against a team who conceded three against Burnley in midweek then you don't deserve anything."
United started well at Goodison, but after falling behind to Anthony Gordon's deflected strike in the first half, Rangnick's team never really looked like getting back into the game.
Sitting seventh, United are now on course for its worst season finish since 1991 given their average points per game earned, but Rangnick is adamant the desire is there to try to change things.
"You could see they (United players) wanted to win the game, but after conceding the goal we lost some confidence," Rangnick added. "We just struggle with the level of expectation.
"We wanted to play more aggressive than we did before. We needed to be more keen to win second balls and pin them back and we didn't do that. That is our problem right now."
Everton boss Frank Lampard was understandably happier after seeing his side earn a battling victory to ease the weight on his shoulders, giving his team a big boost in their survival bid after recent poor results.
"It is not easy after two defeats in a week (prior to United's visit)," Lampard said. "To go against a team who were full of quality and show that level of fight and spirit is incredible and we got what we deserved.
"With a fit squad we are stronger. It is in our hands to keep performing to stay in this league. Do these lads want it more than anything to stay in this league? Yes, and they showed it today."
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