Fred and Scott McTominay have been informed of one area of their game that needs to immediately improve – despite earning praise for their display from Ralf Rangnick in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Rangnick was on the touchline for the first time since becoming United’s interim manager. Despite some complications, he got off to a good start. They backed up the midweek win over Arsenal, which he watched from the stands, with another three points against Palace.
Fred scored from the edge of the box in the 77th minute with what was the only goal of the game.
United have now won back-to-back games for the first time in almost three months. They also kept their first home clean sheet of the season against Palace.
Indeed, Brazilian star Fred should take huge confidence from his display. Often struggling to find the form that persuaded United to shell out £47m in 2018, he has finally started looking good in recent weeks.
And having scored the winner against the Eagles, Rangnick spoke of his happiness for him.
The interim boss said: “I had to ask my assistant coach if that was Fred’s right foot. I thought he could only shoot with his left. I’m happy for him.”
Areas of improvement
Nonetheless, Rangnick admits both Fred and McTominay have ways in which they need to improve. And in telling ‘an area of weakness’ he has asked the pair to cut out so many square passes in midfield.
“If you play the way that we played today, with regard to intensity, being on the front foot, playing very proactively, and having four offensive players ahead of Scotty and Fred – with Jadon, Bruno, Cristiano and Marcus – it’s highly important that you have players who are very disciplined, who are proactively aggressive against the ball,” Rangnick explained.
“And both Scotty and Fred are almost perfect defensively on that. They did one or two or three mistakes, especially in the first half there were two square passes – one from Scott, one from Fred.
“I don’t like those kinds of balls in midfield in those positions. But overall, when the other team is in possession of the ball, both Fred and Scotty they are almost perfect for that kind of football.”
Rangnick explains new Man Utd formation
Rangnick kept faith with the same XI that had overcome Arsenal in midweek, with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard again overlooked.
However, Rangnick did tweak his formation to a 4-2-2-2 and the German admits he was happy with how they adapted.
“For me it seemed logical to not change too many things or too many positions after the win against Arsenal. So in the end, after everybody was fully fit, nobody injured, fully recovered, I decided to play the same starting XI,” he continued.
“And for me the question is how do we get pressure on the ball, how do we get control? And then I decided to play in a 4-2-2-2 with two strikers, no Cristiano alone up front. That means we go with Marcus, use his pace for vertical balls. Then, at the same time with Jadon and with Bruno in the two No 10 positions.
“For the rest it was the same [as against Arsenal]. And we had enough space with Bruno and Jadon on those 10 positions for our full-backs to always play forward. They can then ask for the ball on the wing. Yes, they both played almost like wing-backs especially in the first half. Alex [Telles] and Diogo [Dalot] both did extremely well offensively.
“That was the reason I decided to play in a 4-2-2-2. It means every player could play in their best possible position.”