Ralf Rangnick got off to the perfect start at Manchester United, but he must ensure he does not repeat the same mistake Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made in his final season at the club
When the German arrived into Old Trafford, accompanied with the many murmurs and stories of his aggressive playing style, the 63-year-old was quick to emphasise this was a step-by-step process in his first press conference with the club.
Yet that path appears to have nearly been successfully trod as United suffocated Patrick Vieira’s side.
United’s 12 ball recoveries in the final third of the pitch was the most they have recorded in a single match since Sir Alex Ferguson himself oversaw the side.
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He has also had a tantalising impact on the regularly derided Fred, who not only scored the winning goal, but he also won seven of his nine tackles in the centre of midfield.
Rangnick has already answered the primary questions of his philosophy’s suitability for the Premier League, but the conundrums and challenges posed by the Premier League will need every single player in United’s vast squad.
He does not have the luxury of time in-between matches to rest, recover, and perfect.
United have only had a crash course, intensive demonstration on his system, and teething problems are a very likely inevitability.
And with every window that opens on everybody’s Christmas calendars, the larger the barrier of mounting injury and suspension lists becomes.
Considering the speed Rangnick demands of United players off the ball, yellow and red cards caused by overzealous and late challenges will be an occupational hazard, while fatigue and exhaustion will also creep into their legs.
Even the fittest, most elite footballers will struggle to maintain the speed and distance necessary to this system.
Rangnick demands his side to recover the ball within eight seconds of losing it, in a position where they can get back onto the front foot as fast as possible.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer created a huge problem for himself in the closing weeks of his United reign.
The Norwegian appeared to be petrified of rotating and varying his starting line-ups, despite confidence, fitness, and most damningly, results falling off a cliff.
Donny van de Beek, Dean Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Antony Martial, Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Juan Mata, and Alex Telles were all reportedly furious, having been excluded from the starting eleven, despite their horrific spell of form.
Rangnick cannot, and most likely will not, afford any United players, beside a handful of exceptions, such assurances in the first team.
The likes of Martial, van de Beek, and, if he can convince him to stay until the end of the season, Lingard appear to have the attributes to thrive under Rangnick.
They all bring energy, directness, speed, attacking thrust, and creativity which is also of paramount importance when the Reds win the ball back in the final third.
And Rangnick’s decision to partner Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford in an old-fashioned strike partnership, also suggested Edinson Cavani may also get more opportunities in the starting eleven.
The Uruguayan hitman was also used sparingly under Solskjaer, despite the fact his scoring record for United was impressive, considering his few opportunities.
Above all else, Rangnick must install the very confidence which so spectacularly drained during Solskjaer’s unraveling
If he is successful in all of the upcoming challenges, his ‘Interim Manager’ title could very well be reduced to ‘Manager’.