It’s the closing minutes of Manchester United Champions League game at Olympiakos. Two goals down, a priceless chance suddenly falls to Robin Van Persie. You expect him to score. But no. Lacking his normal composure, he blazes the chance over the bar.
Afterwards, The Dutchman complains about other United players occupying the spaces he would normally take up. Mounting frustration has clearly caused him to strike wildly at his chance.
The pressure is mounting on David Moyes. The journey to grow into being a Manchester United manager is a slow one. It may take a few years. In the meantime, the players could and should take ownership of this situation.
If they have not already done so, the senior players need to gather the squad together, and talk through the issues that are impacting upon performance. As Manchester United players, they are expected to have the charisma, character and resolve to sort out difficulties on the pitch. Their manager is struggling and they need to help him off the pitch too.
If they are not playing for the manager, then this needs addressing between the group. Frank and honest, no holds barred exchange of views clears the air. It allows the truth to be spoken. Everything needs to be opened up – training; strategy; fitness; motivation; team spirit.
Then once the players have established what is going wrong, and determined what they see as solutions, they should take these issues to the management. As players, they can’t sleep walk to mediocrity. It is in their hands to implement change. And the management of course, need to recognise where they are struggling, and accept the input and involvement of the players.
Leadership is an attitude. It’s a resolve to put things right. Not waiting for other to do so. But to take matters into your own hands. Especially when you know what is wrong.
Dark and difficult times are tests of character. But when you play for Manchester United, character should be a basic requirement. The next phase of the season, will show how strong the character of this group is.