RALF RANGNICK WILL lean heavily on club sports psychologist Sascha Lense when Manchester United return to training today to get some much-needed confidence back in the team.
As soon as the new Red Devils boss was appointed he brought the highly rated Lense onto his staff to get into the players’ ‘hearts, brains and blood’.
Lense is the first person to have such a role at the club in 20 years.
Now Rangnick will be hoping his work can pay off in the days before United take on Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.
One senior player feels so low on confidence that he had already started seeing his own sports psychologist towards the end of Ole Solskjaer’s reign.
He is still struggling with his form.
He is not alone with a number of the United first-team finding the weight of expectation and criticism they are receiving, as United lurch into a crisis once again, weighing them down
Defeat at home to Wolves on Monday was the first of Rangnick’s short time in charge but the other five games have been far from convincing.
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In mitigation, he has been in the hot seat at Old Trafford for less than six weeks in which time his preparations have been wrecked by Covid and cancellations.
But every club has had its problems and United has a big squad to call upon.
The ability is there but it is clear there are too many internal problems right now with cliques in the camp.
Psychologist Lense is not only there to try and boost the players’ belief in themselves but in the tactics of Rangnick.
With the exception of the opening 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, they have struggled to implement his high pressing game in a 4-2-2-2 formation.
Rangnick said on appointing Lense: “I have to get into their heart, into their brains, into their blood so they make my idea of football their own.”
So far he has not been able to do that.
Left-back Luke Shaw spoke openly after the 1-0 defeat to Wolves about a lack of togetherness on the pitch.
There is a lack of it off it too which Rangnick has to address from today at Carrington after the players were given two days off following three games in eight days.
On appointing Lense at the start of December Rangnick explained the importance of a sports Psychologist at a club.
He said: “For me, it’s only a question of logic, if you have special coaches for goalkeeping, for physical and education, even for strikers, for fitness, you also should have an expert for the brain.
“Not so much to put them on the white sofa and holding hands for the players because most of them won’t do that anyway, but, for me, it’s about helping the players know that the brain should assist the body and not work against it.
“So, this is what it’s about for the players and even the coaching staff, everybody in our team should think in the right way, we all know what it’s about.”
Meanwhile centre-back Eric Bailly has been cleared to join up with the Ivory Coast for the African Cup of Nations having missed Monday’s match with Wolves due to injury.
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