Manchester United’s players will perform a lap of appreciation following their game against Brentford on Monday evening despite being aware it could lead to a torrent of abuse from supporters given what has been a hugely disappointing season for the club.
United have three games remaining with the visit of Brentford the last at Old Trafford, before trips to Brighton and Crystal Palace. It is customary for teams to mark their final appearance at home with a post-match stroll around the pitch but there had been an expectation that United would ditch theirs given results and performances since August. United are sixth going into the game on Monday and have all but given up on qualifying for the Champions League having won only four of their past 11 league games, a spell during which they have also lost four away games in succession.
This season there has also been a change of manager, with Ralf Rangnick taking charge on an interim basis after Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s sacking in November, a limp exit from the Champions League following defeat by Atlético Madrid in the last 16, and a string of displays by the team that has led to criticism, chiefly from Rangnick himself, regarding the players’ conditioning and commitment.
All in all it has been a miserable nine months or so for those associated with the 20-time champions, but what is meant to be a feelgood lap of appreciation will still take place on Monday evening, with it felt within the United dressing room that not doing so would lead to accusations of the players snubbing the supporters.
How many supporters will be in attendance when the final whistle blows is another matter given a further protest against the Glazers is expected to take place at Old Trafford on Monday, this time with fans being asked to leave their seats in the 73rd‑minute of the contest – 17 minutes from the end to mark 17 years since the Americans took charge of the club. It would be no surprise if a good number of those who take part in the protest use the walkout as an excuse to get home early.