Ralf Rangnick has been appointed as the new interim manager of Manchester United after embarrassing defeats to rivals Liverpool, Manchester City, and newly promoted Watford led to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being sacked. But we cannot assume that the sacking of United’s Norwegian legend as manager removes the problems which exist at the club.
The root of the problem goes far deeper than the manager: a lack of identity, a team filled with individuals, a lack of leadership, players underperforming. This is simply the beginning of what Ralph Rangnick can expect as the new man in charge.
Lack of leadership
Harry Maguire currently wears the armband for Manchester United but many experts think his lack of character and influence on the pitch hasn’t merited it. The European Championships of 2018 is as good as it’s got for the former Leicester man who arrived at United for a world-record fee for a defender shortly afterward, and whose form and fitness have fallen away sharply since his transfer
During the game against Liverpool, when they were being run ragged, they needed reassurance on the pitch from their captain. Instead, his shambolic defending meant he was at fault for two of Liverpool’s goals. Maguire’s last Premier League outing also saw him sent off after his rash challenge on midfielder Tom Cleverley.
But Manchester United fans should also be concerned about his actions off the pitch.. His post-match interviews, for example, have been emotionless, and uninspiring. Something Roy Keane picked up on. “If you want to be the leader of that group, you need to do the basics right, do your own job”.
There is an argument that players such as Ronaldo, Fernandes, and De Gea may be a better fit for the captain’s role and this is food for thought for the new Manchester United manager.
Sancho’s time to shineEmbed from Getty Images
After the transfer saga of Jadon Sancho culminated in a £73 million move to Manchester United, the England winger hasn’t had the best of times in the Premier League. Sancho’s has scored two goals and registered no assists since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund.
Both of his goals have come in his last two outings and his performances of late have been encouraging, providing Man United with a source of energy on the right-hand side. A man of the match award against Villareal showed glimpses of the flair and trickery which persuaded Manchester United to sign him in the first place.
In his last season with Dortmund, Sancho scored an impressive 8 goals and recorded 11 assists in 26 appearances for the German Side.
Sancho has struggled for a regular first-team place under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but a manager could herald a new beginning. Ralf Rangnick’s sides are known for pressing and he could flourish under a new system.
Reliance on players
David De Gea has been getting back to his best in recent weeks, but he is still being overworked and the stats underline this. Manchester United have conceded the sixth-most shots on goal this season with the defense only managing to keep two clean sheets.Embed from Getty Images
Manchester United rank bottom in the league for tackles completed, whilst they have made a total of 11 errors leading to shots on goal as well. This has meant that De Gea has been called into action multiple times this season including an impressive save against the in-form Hudson-Odoi to keep United in the game against Chelsea and two stunning saves against Villareal in midweek.
Such an approach isn’t sustainable and having an overreliance on your keeper is a sign of a side that’s struggling, rather than thriving.
De Gea isn’t the only player United have relied on this season to scrape through results. Despite criticism of Ronaldo’s willingness to track back and lack of pressing, he has scored vital goals in the closing moments of matches since his return to the club.
In fact, on three separate occasions, Ronaldo has scored the match-winning goal in the last 15 minutes of the Champions League and serves as another example of his ability to deliver on the biggest stage. The challenge that awaits Ralph Rangnick is to create a cohesive attacking unit – one which isn’t reliant on moments of individual brilliance to win every game of football.
Is time up for Pogba?
The French midfielder is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered away on international duty and could face up to three months out in total. Pogba has flown out to Dubai to continue his rehabilitation in the warm weather and is expecting to play again just after the start of the new year.Embed from Getty Images
During his second spell at United, Pogba has never truly secured a regular position in the starting 11 with only short periods of impressive form. And after five years at the club, his best position in a United shirt is still unknown to this day.
Pogba’s current contract is set to expire this summer, meaning he is allowed to leave for free at the end of the season or settle a pre-contract agreement with clubs outside of the Premier League for a transfer on July 1st. With Pogba yet to put pen to paper, Ralf Rangnick has a decision to make whether he wants to keep the World Cup winner in his squad.
Just one of many as he takes up the reigns as the new United boss.