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The five things we learned from Ralf Rangnick’s first game in charge of Manchester United


Ralf Rangnick kicked off his Manchester United career with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace (Getty)

The Ralf Rangnick era is well and truly underway at Manchester United after the German boss guided his team to a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace in his first match in charge.

A screamer from Brazilian midfielder Fred, 13 minutes from time, spared the blushes of the 63-year-old in a game where United struggled to break down a well-drilled Palace defence.

Rangnick has taken over on a interim basis until the end of the season as United remain on the search for a permanent replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian boss was sacked last month following a poor run of form that left the club teetering in eighth place in the Premier League table.

Metro.co.uk has taken a look at what we learned from Rangnick’s first game in charge.

The pressing is no myth

Rangnick’s gegenpress tactic was clear to see (Picture: Getty)

Rangnick arrived at Old Trafford with a reputation of being the pioneer of the gegenpress tactic, and the German certainly lived up to that during his first match in charge. 

United pressed almost man for man when they were out of possession against Palace, with the visitors struggling to break through the continuous pressure. 

Even full-backs Alex Telles and Diogo Dalot had a role to play in the press, providing cover for Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho as they were given a free role to win the ball back. 

United have been criticised for not working hard enough without the ball across recent seasons, but it certainly looks like they will not get away with that during Rangnick’s reign.

However, the gegenpress could cause problems for Manchester United against better sides, if they are unable to recover defensively once teams break through the original pressure.

Ronaldo has big role to play

Cristiano Ronaldo led the pressing from the front (Picture: Getty)

There was question marks as to whether Ronaldo would be willing, or even able to buy into Rangnick’s gegenpress tactics. 

However, the Portugal international led from the front in the first half, putting pressure on the Palace defence at any given opportunity. 

Ronaldo, along with the rest of his United team-mates, did drop off their intensity levels in the second half, but that was half expected given the little time Rangnick has been at the club. 

But will the 36-year-old be able to consistently stay at the levels required of him under Rangnick, or will he have to be rested for more games given the amount of running needed?

Haidara must be a priority

Amadou Haidara would provide a better balance to United’s midfield (Picture: Getty)

The midfield pairing of Fred and Scott McTominay did a relatively good job at screening Palace’s midfield threats, but they are arguably not at the level expected of a Manchester United player.

Both Fred and McTominay have been criticised for their performances so far this season, but with Paul Pogba out injured and Nemanja Matic seemingly seen as a back-up option, Rangnick has had his hands tied in terms of selection.

Despite Fred scoring what proved to be the winner against Palace, United need a better balance to their midfield in order to propel themselves back amongst England’s elite clubs.

United have been linked with a move for RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara, with Rangnick reportedly hoping to bring the Mali international to the club in January.

Haidara would offer more balance to the team, with his notable ability both in defence and breaking out of midfield, something that United are desperately lacking with their current options.

Still plenty of work to do

Rangnick’s job isn’t going to be an easy one (Picture: Getty)

Despite the visible improvement in recent weeks, Rangnick still has plenty of work to do to turn this team into one that can challenge at the top of the table again.

United had the majority of possession throughout the match, but struggled to break down a resolute Palace side who looked happy to come away from the game with a point until the Fred screamer late on in the second half.

The Red Devils haven’t been shy of a goal this season, scoring 24 in their opening 14 Premier League matches – the fifth highest in the league. 

However, it’s that balance between defence and attack that Rangnick will need to sort out, with only four clubs having a worse defensive record than United so far this term. 

Top-four ambitions? 

United have the quality, but do they have the consistency? (Picture: Getty)

United certainly have the quality to get into the top-four this season, but a question mark remains over their consistency.

There’s no doubt that the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford can all singlehandedly win a game on their own. 

But if you look at the teams in the top-four at this stage, they all have a mixture of world-class players, coupled with the togetherness and know-how that means that they can pick up results even when they’re not playing to their full potential.

There has been a visible change to the togetherness within the United squad over the last few weeks since Solskjaer’s sacking, where the team looked dejected and full of individuals. 

However, It’s not unusual to see player’s performance-levels increase with the arrival of a new manager, so the real test will be to see if they can maintain the levels they have shown in recent weeks over a longer period. 


MORE : Erik ten Hag accuses Manchester United of ‘mortal sin’ amid links to the manager’s job


MORE : Ralf Rangnick explains why Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard missed his first Manchester United match in charge

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