MANCHESTER UNITED are heading for a toxic tour Down Under.
They jet out to Australia in just under three weeks with uncertainty and disgruntlement awash in the camp.
The atmosphere in the dressing room at the end of last season was described by one source as being as bad as at any time since the closing weeks of Jose Mourinho’s reign.
Since then the problems appear to have mounted, with only one new player in and an inability to get others out.
Add to that a support base whose apathy and, in some cases, animosity towards this group of players is as bad as anyone following the club can remember.
Indeed, each new selfie or social media posting from one of the United “stars” just seems to antagonise fans all the more.
“Well-paid players enjoying holiday” does not quite cut it for supporters who had to suffer the final months of last season.
A campaign which culminated with an embarrassing home defeat to already-relegated Cardiff having only drawn with already-relegated Huddersfield the game before, no less.
Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left a dressing room he had initially united, divided once more, as he delivered a post-match blast after the Cardiff game warning that he was ready to get rid of half the team.
DE GEA DILEMMA
The problem is the whole team is still here.
The huge amount of travelling to the Outback and a sweltering Singapore and Hong Kong is hardly likely to improve moods.
The latest problem thrown into Solskjaer’s in-tray came this week when French midfielder Paul Pogba announced that he was ready for “a new challenge”.
A surprise to those still waiting for him to complete the one he was given when he became United’s record £89million signing almost three years ago.
Such is his influence in the dressing room, however, that an unhappy Pogba can be very damaging.
After all it did for Mourinho — who had managed to win two trophies and earn a second place in two seasons before he was sacked last December.
Yet the World Cup winner is not the only one who will be flying to Oz wishing he was somewhere else.
Goalkeeper David De Gea is still to sign the new contract he was offered over six months ago.
A clear sign that the Spaniard, too, does not see his future at United with just a year left on his current deal.
Unfortunately for him, his lapse in form since last summer’s World Cup means that nobody is kicking the door down to get him.
Then there is Belgian Romelu Lukaku. His national team manager Roberto Martinez this week said the striker needed to get away from United.
If someone will pay the money they will not stand in his way but the Red Devils want £75m.
Inter Milan are the only club interested — and the Italians are struggling to find the cash.
United want rid of Alexis Sanchez but nobody is going to pay his £505,000 weekly wage.
His poor performances annoyed team-mates on half his salary and less.
Unfortunately for United he has become the benchmark for all contract negotiations which is why they are not being signed.
These are all issues that will drag on through the tour unless things can be sorted out and soon.
The problem with that is the questions that will need to be asked by the following media pack will only test the patience of a manager who is desperate to revive the club’s fortunes.
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What United need of course is a bunch of fresh, new hungry players.
But so far only winger Dan James from Swansea has arrived.
Solskjaer really does have some job on his hands.