A Manchester United forward’s position looks in even greater jeopardy after the reason behind a Ralf Rangnick decision was speculated to be related to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Rangnick made a winning start to life as interim manager of Manchester United on Sunday. The Red Devils were made to bide their time before Fred finally found the breakthrough against Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace.
Rangnick deployed his customary 4-2-2-2 formation in the contest, throwing up several talking points regarding his team selections.
Diogo Dalot was preferred to Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back, while the much-maligned Scott McTominay-Fred partnership worked wonders in the engine room.
But it was the selection of Marcus Rashford up top alongside Cristiano Ronaldo that 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.
Rashford selection will cover up Ronaldo drawback – Robinson
“Rashford has been given more of a free role in this system,” Robinson told Football Insider.
“He has not played a lot of football this season and I don’t think he has done particularly well when he has played. I think he’ll be the first to say that.
“Under a new manager in a new position, this is a big opportunity. There was signs against Palace that this system could suit him.
“Playing him up there with Ronaldo puts a little bit more leg power behind Cristiano in a defensive sense. Perhaps Rangnick has given thought to that. Rashford looks to be the one that has been tasked to press further up with Ronaldo.”
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If that theory is true, it could spell the end of Edinson Cavani’s time at Old Trafford.
The Uruguayan is known for his willingness to press. 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.
Cavani has been strongly linked with a January exit after finding minutes hard to come by this season. If Robinson’s thoughts regarding Rashford’s selection proves correct, Cavani’s time in Manchester could soon be up.
Man Utd’s Trippier hopes suffer double blow
Meanwhile, the terms Newcastle are prepared to offer Kieran Trippier have been revealed, with a Manchester United move for the right-back now labouring under two threats.
The Atletico Madrid right-back, 31, had become a serious target for Manchester United over the summer. Diogo Dalot had been linked with a permanent return to AC Milan where he impressed on loan the season before.
Trippier’s arrival would’ve provided Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a more attack-minded option to complement Aaron Wan-Bissaka. But by the time the summer window slammed shut, neither Dalot or Trippier had changed clubs.
Four months on and Man Utd have a new man at the helm. Ralf Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 formation is better suited to Dalot at right-back, meaning any interest the club still had in Trippier may have diminished.
But according to 90min, even if the Red Devils did target Trippier, they would face stiff competition from Newcastle. The online outlet state Newcastle are prepared to make Trippier the highest paid player in the club’s history in January.
The former Spurs full-back will reportedly be offered £150,000-per-week. Despite already being 31, a three-and-a-half-year deal is in the works.