Saturday, May 28

A Fred revival & 5 things we learned from Ralf Rangnick’s first game as Manchester United manager

A Fred revival & 5 things we learned from Ralf Rangnick’s first game as Manchester United manager

A Fred revival & 5 things we learned from Ralf Rangnick’s first game as Manchester United manager

A Fred revival & 5 things we learned from Ralf Rangnick’s first game as Manchester United manager

Manchester United vs Crystal Palace

Manchester United would play host to Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon.

The game marked Ralf Rangnick’s first in the United dugout.

The Red Devils headed into the encounter having begun to string together a decent run of results under Michael Carrick.

Crystal Palace, on the other hand, have dipped off a fair bit since a huge 2-0 win over Manchester City.

As a result, a win for the hosts was expected on the day. And, when all was said and done, this is exactly what transpired.

Manchester United dominated proceedings but took until the 77th minute to open the scoring. Mason Greenwood laid the ball off to Fred, who curled an effort into the top corner of Palace’s net. And this strike would be enough to secure Rangnick his first win as United boss.

Here are five things 101 learned from the match.

Ralf Rangnick’s instant impact

Ralf Rangnick has been in charge of Manchester United for only a few days, with Michael Carrick having still been at the helm on Thursday evening.

Despite this, though, the German has already had an instant impact in Manchester.

Rangnick is, of course, well known for his pressing style of football, with the former RB Leipzig man affectionately dubbed ‘the godfather of gegenpressing’.

His new side, though, have been anything but a pressing team over the last few years, with their attempts to implement a pressure system often leading to the Reds becoming exposed and not even winning the ball back.

But Rangnick’s instant impact was clear to see after just a few minutes against Palace. The entire United team were not only pressing, but pressing in a coherent, organised fashion, which, in turn, led to the hosts causing the Eagles problems, and creating several chances.

Of course, it will take some time for Rangnick to get United pressing as effectively as he would like, whilst the club’s stars will also likely need to build up the required fitness to implement their new off-ball tactics properly for 90 minutes every game.

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But the signs are certainly there that Man United are beginning a positive new era under their new manager.

A change of formation

Though Manchester United lined up with the exact same XI that they utilised from the off in Michael Carrick’s final game in charge, Rangnick had the Reds set up in a new system.

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Red Devils had begun to experiment with a 3-5-2, whilst also playing regularly with their go-to 4-2-3-1.

Against Palace, though, Man United lined up in a 4-2-2-2, which saw Marcus Rashford partner Cristiano Ronaldo up top, with Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho providing the width.

The formation is a favourite of Rangnick’s, and does make it easier for him to implement his pressing style. As a result, United’s fans will likely be seeing it used on a regular basis moving forward.

Jadon Sancho is more effective from the left

Jadon Sancho has had a very underwhelming start to life at Manchester United.

The Englishman has looked somewhat brighter since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left the club. But it is probably fair to say that Sancho’s best showing in a United shirt came against Crystal Palace.

He was deployed as one of the two wide midfielders in a 4-2-2-2.

And whilst Sancho and Bruno Fernandes swapped flanks throughout the tie, it was pretty obvious that the former caused the most issues when he was on the left.

It is from this area that Sancho had previously scored most of his goals for Borussia Dortmund. So, after looking sharp in that spot again on Sunday, perhaps Rangnick would be best served to leave the Englishman on the left-flank going forward, rather than having him rotate with Fernandes.

Youngsters set to get a chance under Rangnick?

One of the main things which Rangnick has done well over the years is take young stars and help them to develop into top players, whether that be as their manager or from a role higher up.

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And, at Manchester United, the German once again looks set to hand youth a chance to shine.

Anthony Elanga had made just three senior Reds appearances before Sunday, yet Rangnick called upon the winger vs Palace when his side were still searching for the opening goal.

And though it would be foolish to read too much into one change, this does seem to hint that the club’s new boss will show faith in United’s young talents this season.

A Fred revival & 5 things we learned from Ralf Rangnick’s first game as Manchester United manager

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 05: Fred of Manchester United celebrates with team mates after scoring their side’s first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on December 05, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

A Fred revival

For some time now, Fred has come in for heavy criticism for his displays in a Manchester United shirt.

However, the Brazilian has looked sharper in the club’s last few league outings, and was once again impressive in gameweek 15.

The former Shakhtar man looks as though he could fit Rangnick’s system very well, excelling in his box-to-box role against Patrick Vieira’s side and scoring the winner on the day.

Of course, some fans may laugh at the notion of Fred turning into a top midfielder at Man United.

But there is a reason that the South American was courted by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City before his switch to Old Trafford came to fruition. Has poor coaching simply been holding Fred back throughout his time in England so far?

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This article was edited by
Conor Laird.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City 15 23 35
2 Liverpool FC 15 32 34
3 Chelsea FC 15 26 33
4 West Ham United 15 9 27
5 Arsenal FC 14 -3 23
6 Tottenham Hotspur 13 -4 22
7 Manchester United 14 21
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15 -1 21
9 Brighton & Hove Albion 15 -2 20
10 Leicester City 14 -3 19
11 Crystal Palace 14 -1 16
12 Brentford FC 14 -2 16
13 Aston Villa 14 -4 16
14 Southampton FC 15 -7 16
15 Everton FC 14 -7 15
16 Leeds United 14 -7 15
17 Watford FC 15 -9 13
18 Burnley FC 14 -7 10
19 Newcastle United 15 -13 10
20 Norwich City 14 -20 10
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 13
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 8
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 7
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 7
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 6
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 6
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 6
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 6
Raphinha Leeds United 6
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United 6
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 6
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 5
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United 5
King, Joshua Watford FC 5
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 5
Pukki, Teemu Norwich City 5
Cornet, Maxwel Burnley FC 5
Sarr, Ismaila Watford FC 5
James, Reece Chelsea FC 4


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