Scott McTominay’s header was enough for Manchester United to defeat Aston Villa in the FA Cup, but there remain concerns over the direction of the Red Devils under Rangnick
Rangnick has lost just one of his six games in charge since he replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the end of November, but the Red Devils’ performances have largely been underwhelming.
But Villa were the better side for large parts of the clash at Old Trafford and were unlucky not to score at least one goal, with David de Gea making a series of impressive saves.
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McTominay’s goal was his second in his last three games in all competitions, having scored the opener in the Premier League win over Burnley.
The strike means he has scored as many goals in his last three outings as he managed in his previous 39 matches.
The turnaround in McTominay’s form in front of goal also suggests that Rangnick is finally making progress in his training sessions.
The Scottish midfielder has started all but one of United’s games under Rangnick, but the German has at times made his frustrations with McTominay’s tendency to pass sideways clear.
“They [McTominay and Fred] did one or two or three mistakes, especially in the first half there were two square passes – one from Scott, one from Fred,” Rangnick said following the win over Crystal Palace.
“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.”
McTominay has also praised Rangnick for his ‘firm’ instructions, which has helped him to improve under the German’s management.
“Pretty much every team in the Premier League presses the middle of the pitch with the biggest intensity,” the Scot told Sky Sports in December.
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“His ideas in that respect is that the most regains leading to goals will probably be through the middle of the pitch, maybe little passes that get intercepted.
“It’s being streetwise, it’s being smart. It [Rangnick’s thinking] is flexible and easy to understand as well. He’s very firm, very driven and knows what he wants.
“In meetings he is very clear, that’s the way it is in football. To get your point across, you have to be clear and you have to be forceful.
“If players are not doing what you are asking, then he is not shy to tell you as well. The first early impressions are very, very good.”
While Rangnick’s hands-on approach is paying off with McTominay, former Premier League winner Shearer does not believe United have the players to succeed under the German.
“It’s alright having that belief in how to play, but it’s also having the player to play that way and in that current system what he would like to play, no I don’t think they have the players,” he told BBC Sport.
“I think they’ve got a lot of good players here but I don’t think there are enough very good players here.
“I watched them at Newcastle, they were dreadful Newcastle should’ve beat them easily, I watched them against Wolves they were awful, I know they won against Burnley but they weren’t that great on that night either.”