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Ralf Rangnick got off to a successful start as Manchester United interim manager, with the Red Devils beating Crystal Palace 1-0 on Sunday.
There was a definite buzz around Old Trafford in the buildup to kick-off. The fans have been through a tricky time of late. But with Michael Carrick’s brief spell a huge success, there was hope in the air.
And that hope turned to results, with the new man in the dugout starting off with an important victory. The Manchester outfit are now just three points off a spot in the top four. But their 24 points leave them 11 points behind rivals and leaders Manchester City.
There is, therefore, undoubtedly still a lot of work that needs to be done behind the scenes. But for now, United supporters will absolutely take those three points.
Here are some things we have learned from Rangnick’s short time as Man Utd interim manager:
Press, press, press
Although it was expected, the high-intensity press was welcomed with open arms by United supporters. It was certainly an increase in pressing from a few weeks ago under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, so while it may not be particularly impressive, it’s still an important development.
12 – Man Utd won possession in the final third 12 times against Crystal Palace today, at least five more occasions than they managed in any other Premier League game this season. Ethos. pic.twitter.com/pILc0I9K0G
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 5, 2021
It’s also not an easy task. But Rangnick looks to have provided that little motivational push required for each player to press that little bit more. It has turned from an individual effort to a team effort in a matter of days, and it’s clear to see that the new manager has been key to that.
Elusive clean sheet
Clean sheets have been very, very hard to come by for the Red Devils this season. The clean sheet against Palace was just the club’s third of the season in the league. Moreover, it was David de Gea’s first Premier League clean sheet at Old Trafford since February.
The Spaniard has made some crucial saves in recent weeks. But the three league clean sheets – combined with just one in the Champions League – leaves him with just four clean sheets in 20 matches this season. It is, of course, not solely his responsibility. Rangnick will want more and more shutouts at the back, so a large chunk of his time will focus on strengthening the back four and goalkeeper.
Competition for places under Rangnick
It’s a concept that the likes of Man City and Chelsea have mastered. Their squads are easily among the best in world football. Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus all came off the bench for Pep Guardiola at the weekend. And for the Blues, it was Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic. This hasn’t been the case at Man Utd.
But now players such as Alex Telles and Diogo Dalot will definitely give Rangnick something to think about at full-back. Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be worried. The same can be said for the final third, with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Elanga and a fit Edinson Cavani all eyeing a starting role.