Manchester United are snowballing into a merry crisis, becoming the sort of plague-ridden club everybody wants to avoid. With reports that the Adrien Rabiot deal has fallen through, the club’s hapless midfield looks set to remain so unless they can pull a sorcerer’s gun to trick Real Madrid’s Casemiro into swapping Madrid for Manchester. While the Brazilian hardman seems a longshot, club bosses were hoping that Erik Ten Hag’s Ajax connections would land them Antony.

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But the winger is unsure of joining his old boss at Old Trafford. After two defeats in two, the second a chastening 4-0 loss at Brentford, the 22-year-old is having second thoughts, reports Dutch daily De Telegraaf. Tepid in attack, flaky in defence and invisible in midfield, the Red Devils’ nightmare continues. Add to the mix an irate fanbase, and we have a perfect cocktail of chaos. The supporters have identified their enemy in the Glazers. The American family, who owns a majority stake in the club, have had a fractious relationship with the United faithful after saddling the club with massive debts at the time of their purchase in 2005.

If the rot stems from the top, spreading all over, Ten Hag’s mandate is to remedy the footballing side. He has cried out for new signings, but the club has only managed three so far- Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez. The latter has been woeful in his two outings, bullied by Premier League forwards at every go. Rabiot looked a done deal at one stage- the club agreeing an initial £15 million fee with Juventus- but the Frenchman’s mother, Veronique, demanded her son earn over £240,000 a week- higher than top earners such as Bruno Fernandes. United officials baulked at the offer, effectively scuppering the move. Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong was Ten Hag’s preferred choice. However, he has shunned his old boss, opting to remain at Nou Camp.

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United’s case is made weaker by the absence of Champions League football. Club’s star man Cristiano Ronaldo has been angling for a move for the same reasons, finding as much success as his employers in their transfer dealings. Liverpool’s visit on Tuesday threatens a boiling over, both on and off the pitch. Supporter groups have planned protests before the match, with a walkout on the cards. On-field, the prospect is bleak. Shipping eight goals against their North-West rivals last season, one wonders how many Salah & Co. will pile on this time.