Manchester United transfer makers must listen to Ralf Rangnick comments – Richard Fay

Ralf Rangnick might not have been the mid-season savior Manchester United had hoped he would be, but he could well hold the key to solving their issues in the long run.

The interim manager has hardly been able to walk the walk since he arrived at Old Trafford last November — though he has certainly been able to talk the talk, and honestly assess many issues at the club.

Despite an encouraging start to his reign, United have quickly fallen back into old habits under the experienced German, and even his deep analytical thinking has been unable to arouse the immediate response required to salvage a fractured season.

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One of the biggest issues for United has been the mentality of the squad and the manner in which they have regularly thrown away leads, the latest coming against Norwich at the weekend. Without the protective shield of Scott McTominay or Fred to call upon, United went gung-ho with their midfield line up, utilizing Paul Pogba in a deeper role with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard ahead of him.

Having a great passer of the ball like Pogba at the base of the midfield certainly helped United with their ability to break the lines and threaten the Norwich side, though the lack of defensive discipline would ultimately be their undoing as the bottom side drew level having been two goals down. If not for the shot-stopping excellence of David de Gea in goal and the lethal finishing of Cristiano Ronaldo at the other end of the pitch, United would have dropped even more points in their bid for a top-four finish.

Given the injury news, Rangnick had hoped to keep Nemanja Matic fresh for the trip to face Liverpool on Tuesday night, but with the scores level, he turned to the Serbian in order to get a grip on the game again. It is safe to say it worked a treat.

Less than 24 hours after announcing he’d leave the club at the end of the season, the 33-year-old came to the rescue for United with a composed and disciplined display, providing United with a presence in midfield and calmly moving the ball about in an effortless manner.

If United are to have any chance of a shock result at Anfield on Tuesday night, then a Matic masterclass will be required once again.

Speaking ahead of the clash with Liverpool interim manager Rangnick was asked why his side have conceded so many leads this season, and once again he offered an interesting answer, highlighting the lack of defensive specialist in his midfield.

“We have a lot of offensive players, who should normally play,” he told Sky Sports. “But at the same time, we didn’t have the same number of defensive, for example, midfield players. Fred and Scott McTominay are missing. We don’t have many other defensive midfielders and that has been a problem in the past, and that’s why we didn’t see those games out after being one or two up.”

It does not matter how much of an attacking threat you have on the pitch if they are not getting the required service and, without a recognized defensive midfielder, United have continued to struggle for the appropriate balance throughout the season.

Signing a midfielder is the priority for United in the summer, and they are already working on a potential deal for Leeds star Kalvin Phillips — though there is reason to suggest they actually need two given Matic and Pogba will both be leaving.

There is a belief that Donny van de Beek will have a far more prominent role under the guidance of former Ajax mentor Erik ten Hag. But once again, the focus will be on marrying individual talent with an appropriate system which allows United to keep a firm grip on matches.

In a summer that will see United give control to a new manager, that successful candidate will then need to find a way to bring that control to the pitch as well.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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