Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Rangnick plots Leeds, Liverpool-related deals to solve Man Utd ‘weakness’

Leeds United pair Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips

Ralf Rangnick immediately identified the biggest weakness at Manchester United during his initial interview, and set the wheels in motion over three transfers to remedy the problem, per a report.

The German will captain Manchester United’s ship until the end of the season. The veteran will then move upstairs into a consultancy role, opening the door for the appointment of a permanent manager.

Rangnick spell at the helm got off to winning ways when United defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 last weekend.

His fingerprints were all over the tactics on display on the day. The United players’ starting positions were notably higher up the pitch than under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

His 4-2-2-2 formation flooded the central areas. Furthermore, his demand for a high intensity press helped United win back possession in dangerous areas on multiple occasions.

Nonetheless, Rangnick’s post-match interview suggested he remains unconvinced about one area of his squad.

When speaking about midfield pair Scott McTominay and Fred, Rangnick said: “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.”

Phillips to snub United for Liverpool

While United may miss out on him, Declan Rice may still be the better option.

Now, according to ESPN, Rangnick pegged United’s much-maligned midfield as their greatest weakness during his initial interview.

Accordingly, he explained why the club must invest in midfield before being offered the job. Furthermore, he also identified three suitable targets.

Firstly, ESPN state Leeds United talisman Kalvin Phillips was named. Phillips has developed into a supreme all-around midfielder under Marcelo Bielsa and has begun to draw links with what would be a controversial switch.

Rangnick eyes Bundesliga pair

Secondly, Rangnick mentioned Liverpool target Jude Bellingham. The teenager is one of European football’s hottest prospects. As such, The Mirror stated Liverpool are prepared to break their club record by sanctioning a £90m move for the Borussia Dortmund sensation.

The final midfielder Rangnick urged United’s scouts to ‘take a closer look at’ was RB Leipzig’s Amadou Haidara.

The combative midfielder is well known to Rangnick through their shared time at Leipzig. With that in mind, and given he would command the smallest fee, perhaps Haidara would be the most realistic option to help turn United’s biggest weakness into a strength.

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Rangnick thought process puts Cavani on the brink

Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani’s position looks in even greater jeopardy after the reason behind a Rangnick decision was speculated to be related to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Rangnick deployed his customary 4-2-2-2 formation in his debut match against Crystal Palace. That threw up several talking points regarding his team selections. Marcus Rashford being chosen to partner Cristiano Ronaldo up top was perhaps the biggest talking point.

Rashford has primarily been deployed out wide during his United career. However, according to former goalkeeper Paul Robinson, playing Rashford centrally might be Rangnick’s way of covering for Ronaldo’s relative lack of defensive work-rate.

“Playing him up there with Ronaldo puts a little bit more leg power behind Cristiano in a defensive sense,” Robinson told Football Insider.

“Perhaps Rangnick has given thought to that. Rashford looks to be the one that has been tasked to press further up with Ronaldo.”

If that theory is true, it could spell the end of Edinson Cavani’s time at Old Trafford. The Uruguayan is a more than willing presser of opposition defences. But at 34, even he will struggle to match Rangnick’s high intensity demands for a full 90 minutes.

The fact United suffered a notable drop in intensity against Palace after just 30 minutes would be another black mark on the chances of two players in their mid-30s starting together up top. If only one can be selected, Ronaldo will always get the nod.

READ MORE: Rangnick tactical plan prompts Real Madrid to line up sensational January raid for Man Utd talisman