MAN UTD 1-1 YOUNG BOYS: although the new interim boss was unable to oversee a second victory, there were at least a few signs that he is beginning to exert his authority over the club.
Ralf Rangnick took charge of his second Manchester United match on Wednesday night as a much-changed United side took on Young Boys at Old Trafford in the Champions League.
And although the new interim boss was unable to oversee a second victory, there were at least a few signs that he is beginning to exert his authority over the club.
The hosts drew 1-1 as a fine Mason Greenwood strike was cancelled out by a long range effort from Fabian Rieder, and although the result had no bearing on United’s position as winners of their group, the new boss will at least have learned a few things from the game.
Here’s how he influenced it.
1. The team selection
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The first statement from the interim boss came before the match even kicked off.
Of course this was a dead rubber for an already qualified United, but the idea of telling Cristiano Ronaldo that he’s not playing in a game against opponents against whom he could pad those impressive stats would be a pretty daunting one for most football managers.
Instead the German was determined to turn to youth, and there was a real sense that the new boss really cared for the progress of some of United’s brightest talents, such as Anthony Elanga – who started at Old Trafford having come off the bench against Crystal Palace in Rangnick’s first game.
2. Trusting in Mason Greenwood
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But of course, at Manchester United there are good young players and there is Mason Greenwood.
The forward is something special indeed, and if anything this development has been stunted this season due to the long-awaited arrival of Jadon Sancho and then the excited purchase of Ronaldo.
The young Englishman is a remarkable finisher, and Rangnick is sure to see things in his game – such as his ability to press and of course his pace – that he likes.
Dare we say it, but is he a better forward for a Rangnick side than Ronaldo? (of course he is)
3. Youth off the pitch as well as on
It wasn’t just on the pitch where United were stacked with youthful talent.
While Young Boys’ bench was full of Young Boys players, United’s was full of genuine young boys, as Rangnick selected a stack of replacements with an average age of 18.
The likes of Matej Kovar, Bjorn Hardley, Zidane Iqbal and Charlie Savage – yes, son of Robbie, will never forget their night as they were involved with the first-team, with Iqbal and Savage both getting on for debuts late on.
There were also cameos for the slightly more experienced Teden Mengi and Shola Shoretire, as Rangnick showed that he is thinking of the future however long he’s in the job.
4. Chances missed for big names
Manchester United’s players can’t say that the new boss hasn’t given them all a decent chance, because the way the fixtures have fallen for Rangnick has allowed him to do just that.
That has meant that the suspicions over players such as Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who many figured wouldn’t quite be up to Rangnick-ball, have very quickly been allowed to be aired in public. And it didn’t exactly go too well for the £50m right-back.
Overlooked for Diogo Dalot at the weekend, Wan-Bissaka was given his chance here and often struggled to get forward with any real purpose.
It could be an interesting few weeks for him.
5. And of course, the pressing
We can’t leave you without mentioning the famed pressing, and again it was clear to see that United upped it in that regard at their manager’s insistence.
Greenwood was a key factor in that to begin with, and although Jesse Lingard didn’t quite impress as he would have liked, he too looks as though he is suited to that kind of game.
There is still a long way for the new manager to go before he instils his identity of course, but the green shoots are there.