Manchester United players are showing signs of 'dejection, demotivation or lack of focus'

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Manchester United stars look defeated a ball has been kicked… players are showing signs of ‘dejection, demotivation or a lack of focus’ says top body language expert

  • Manchester United were outclassed in a miserable 1-0 loss to Wolves on Monday 
  • A picture circulated with United players looking dejected before the game
  • A body language expert says the image demonstrates a lack of focus 


A body language expert has delivered a stern verdict on Ralf Rangnick’s struggling Manchester United stars – they look defeated before a ball has been kicked.

A picture circulated on social media on Monday night during and after their dismal display and ultimate loss to Wolves, the away side’s first win at Old Trafford for 42 years.

It showed United’s players with heads and shoulders slumped, dejected facial expressions and an overall uninterested manner.

This image circulated of social media showing United players with heads and shoulders slumped with dejected facial expressions before kick-off

This image circulated of social media showing United players with heads and shoulders slumped with dejected facial expressions before kick-off

Ralf Rangnick's side suffered a miserable 1-0 loss to Wolves thanks to a Joao Moutinho goal

Ralf Rangnick’s side suffered a miserable 1-0 loss to Wolves thanks to a Joao Moutinho goal

And a TV body language expert, Judi James, author of 26 books on the subject, has said it demonstrates a lack of focus. 

‘The non-verbal signals here suggest emotions such as dejection, demotivation or a lack of focus,’ she told Sportsmail.

‘Walking out on the pitch most teams will project either signals of high levels of energy, running out with elbows bent and fists held around the upper chest area and then jumping about before the game starts.

‘Or they will show a warrior-like state where the chest is splayed, the arms are swinging and the cold eye-stare that is pitched above head-level lets fans and opponents know the players are in the zone.

‘Some of the players had their shoulders slumped and their arms seem to be hanging loose by their sides with no obvious tension in their hands and fingers.

Manchester United have suffered a tumultuous season and sit seventh at the half-way stage

Manchester United have suffered a tumultuous season and sit seventh at the half-way stage

‘Some have heads held down, which can be the human equivalent of a dog with its tail between its legs, and their facial expressions look gloomy rather than full of grit and resolve.

‘Conceding an early goal can cause dejection but it’s rarely displayed visibly like this. Heads hanging and low-energy posture would suggest someone has given up. 

‘I’ve seen teams that are four-nil down who are still pumped up visibly like winners rather than losers. When you illustrate what looks like low morale you give your opponents a strong psychological advantage.

‘This kind of demotivated-looking body language is rarely down to mistaken perception. The fans read, feed and take their own energy from the team’s body language displays.

‘The players use their non-verbal state as an interpersonal feed as well, meaning walking out like a warrior helps create inner feelings of power and invincibility. Walking out looking dejected could make it almost impossible to play at your best.’

It comes after former player and Sky pundit Gary Neville described United’s players as ‘whinge bags’ during their draw at Newcastle last month.

Gary Neville described United's players as 'whinge bags' during the draw with Newcastle

Gary Neville described United’s players as ‘whinge bags’ during the draw with Newcastle

Rangnick himself has questioned his players’ body language – his side are now a staggering 22 points off leaders Manchester City, a year on from the Red Devils being top of the table after the same amount of matches.

James added: ‘If Rangnick is focusing on the body language there are small benefits to be made, but also many risks if the core problems aren’t sorted too. 

‘If the problems and attitudes causing these displays are dealt with the body language should self-heal and therefore look congruent and authentically upbeat next time they play.

‘If they are just told to change their body language state though the sense that it is now an act will be pretty obvious to everyone, like the fake smile someone might apply if they’ve been told to cheer up when they are clearly feeling miserable. 

‘What is even more worrying is that some of the players are looking like this under a new manager. A change of leadership usually heralds a change of non-verbal behaviours and in football that normally means a re-energised look as they slate is wiped clean and they get a fresh start.’

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