Manchester United may have claimed a 3-1 win over Brentford on Wednesday night but Ralf Rangnick’s side highlighted a concerning flaw for much of the match
Rio Ferdinand was in no doubt about Ralf Rangnick’s flaws prior to Manchester United ‘s Premier League clash with Brentford on Wednesday night, and for the first 45 minutes, his assessment proved spot on.
The so-called ‘Godfather of the Gegenpress’ – mentor to the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel – was full of promises when he arrived at Old Trafford, but it really hasn’t gone to plan.
Rangnick was supposed to be United’s knight in shining armour, the man to restore the club to the glory days of old, but the reality has been a far cry from that.
Despite claiming a 3-1 win at Brentford on Wednesday night, United were once again unconvincing and inconsistent, merely papering over the cracks and emphasising the “disappointing” flaw highlighted by Ferdinand prior to the match.
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“He spoke about improving players and team performance when he got here – I haven’t seen that consistently much if at all in the majority of the players,” the former United centre-back told BT Sport. “It’s been disappointing to see in that respect.”
Put simply, Ferdinand hit the nail on the head.
A somewhat surprising appointment given he has spent more time in the boardroom than the touchline in recent years, Rangnick won over the hearts of the Old Trafford hierarchy with his reputation and idealistic vision.
A vision of transforming United into a supremely slick, high-energy side with sturdy foundations for the future. However, it appears the club’s chiefs were blinded by the light.
On Wednesday evening, you could have been forgiven for thinking the home side were the team managed by a revolutionary coach with a reputation of Rangnick’s calibre.
The Bees were well-organised, dangerous on the counter and intent on playing attractive, high-intensity football. United, on the other hand, failed to muster a single shot on target in the first half.
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Time and time again, Rangnick’s side were carved open. United’s defence looks ragged and they were lucky to make it to half time level after being given the runaround.
Upon his arrival, the German coach declared his desire for everyone at United to “buy in” to his philosophy, stating: “I need to get into their heart, their brains, their blood, whatever. The first steps have been taken.”
Unfortunately for Rangnick, not many more have been taken since.
Ultimately Ferdinand is right: United have scarcely progressed under Rangnick and the odd moment of magic against Thomas Frank’s Brentford will have done little to have convinced him otherwise.
At times, his team appeared disjointed and his players looked devoid of confidence. As Ferdinand pointed out, they possess a concerning lack of consistency.
At his unveiling, Rangnick appeared genuinely excited, enthused at the prospect of taking on the challenge of managing one of the biggest club’s in the world, but over the course of two months, that spark has seemingly faded.
The German looks like a man feeling the heat and reports of player’s feeling disillusioned by his approach and tactics won’t have helped matters.
Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford may have eased that pressure somewhat, but Rangnick can’t have been pleased with what he saw in west London on Wednesday night, particularly in that first half.
Consistency is key, as pointed out by Ferdinand. And Rangnick’s United simply haven’t got.