Ralf Rangnick reflects on Wolves defeat
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Manchester United were dire against Wolves, slipping to a 1-0 defeat on Monday night with Joao Moutinho scoring the winner for the visitors. It means Ralf Rangnick is already under pressure, just a month after replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Express Sport will now take a look at the four decisions the 63-year-old got wrong as they lost more ground in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Taking off Greenwood
When United took off Mason Greenwood, supporters inside Old Trafford made it clear what they thought about the decision.
For the first time, they turned on Rangnick. The German was booed, though he later downplayed the incident after the game.
Rangnick confirmed he took Greenwood off because he felt the England international was becoming sloppy but there’s a sense he did it merely to save other, perhaps bigger names, from embarrassment.
Edinson Cavani was flat, Cristiano Ronaldo subdued and Jadon Sancho nothing short of shambolic as United slipped to defeat.
Taking off Greenwood was the wrong decision and won’t win Rangnick any popularity contests as he looks to turn their crisis around.
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Rangnick has long sworn by his 4-2-2-2 system, using it to brilliant affect during his time with Rb Leipzig in particular.
Yet, at half time against Wolves, he then decided to change to a three at the back.
Sure, it meant United having more of the ball. Yet the fact Rangnick is already tinkering with his system suggests he’s at a loss to coax the best from the current crop of players in the squad.
Top managers stand by their methods. When they start to tinker, as results go south, it usually smacks of panic and desperation.
Rangnick needed to change something but personnel, rather than his system, would have been a better way to go.
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Wan-Bissaka over Dalot
Rangnick decided to play it safe by going with Aaron Wan-Bissaka over Diogo Dalot for the match against Wolves.
Yet that decision backfired, too.
There was certainly logic to his thinking, with Wan-Bissaka perhaps better-equipped than Dalot on paper to deal with Wolves’ speedy frontline.
But the Portugal international is a player in better form and, going forward, offers considerably more.
Picking Dalot would have been a braver call and one that, given his impressive performances in recent weeks, could have paid off.
Making Ronaldo captain
Another player whose form is questionable is Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sure, he’s scored twice since Rangnick took over. Yet given one of them was a penalty, it’s hardly the sign of a player operating at the peak of his powers.
Ronaldo is a bit of a hindrance, as well as being a help. He can still score but there’s a sense his power and influence has had a negative impact on the club’s dressing room.
David De Gea, as a player back to his best, would perhaps radiate more natural authority.
Ronaldo hasn’t been the same threat since Rangnick took over and that, certainly, is an issue the German has to solve.
What next for United?
The Red Devils are next in action against Aston Villa on Monday in the FA Cup third round.
Given it’s their biggest chance of winning a trophy this season, Rangnick can’t afford a premature exit.
After that, United then face Villa in the league.
Another loss there would be a hammer blow to their hopes of securing a top four finish, especially with Arsenal and Tottenham starting to get their mojo back.
United then face West Ham, Burnley, Southampton and Leeds before locking horns with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on February 23.
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