To say Ralf Rangnick’s time as Manchester United manager has gone according to plan would be a poor judgment of his tenure so far.
All you have to do is think back to when he was first announced as United’s interim boss to know that a lot of United fans hoped his stellar reputation and tactical nous would be enough to get the club’s season back on track.
While there’s an argument that United have improved since the final few weeks of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at the helm, there’s still a very long way to go.
Since Rangnick took charge he’s only lost one Premier League match, but his squad are failing to convert draws into victories. Three draws in the previous seven league outings could prove to be costly come the end of the season.
Despite the inconsistency, Rangnick has insisted his team are making progress.
“My full focus is on developing our performances and getting better in different areas of the game,” he said before the recent draw with Burnley.
“I’m absolutely convinced we have done that so far and we will try to do that with all our efforts and energy in the future.”
United may not be where they want to be right now but one big plus from Rangnick’s time in charge has been their defensive record.
In the last six matches under Rangnick in all competitions, United have only conceded five goals, whereas in Solskjaer’s final six games in charge, they shipped 15.
That shows there’s been a big change in the amount of ‘control’ Rangnick’s team have had in games, a word he’s been keen to push since arriving at Old Trafford.
However, there’s also an argument to be made that issues at the other end of the pitch are halting United’s progress.
United have either drawn a blank or mustered just one goal in nine of the 12 matches since Rangnick arrived. For all of Solskjaer’s failings, his side of him were nowhere near as shy in front of goal, bagging five on the opening day against Leeds, four against Newcastle and three away at fellow Champions League hopefuls Tottenham.
And it’s not even as though they’re not creating chances.
Against Burnley, United had 23 attempts on goal but converted just one of them. In the FA Cup loss to Middlesbrough, Rangnick’s men had 30 attempts but, again, only converted one.
Despite some impressive victories under Solskjaer earlier this season, he also saw his side struggle in front of goal from time to time.
United had 27 shots in their Carabao Cup clash with West Ham back in September and still managed to lose 1-0. It was the same story against Aston Villa in September, 27 shots but a 1-0 defeat.
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United have been failing to convert chances all season and perhaps that’s the issue Rangnick should have looked to address first.
There’s always a worry that, regardless of how organized United’s backline is, one of the defenders could make an individual error at any moment.
Perhaps it’s time to go all-out attack and bring back the good old days.
(Shot stats via FBref)
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