sport news Ralf Rangnick inherits Man United side with many issues but Chelsea draw offers ...

sport news Ralf Rangnick inherits Man United side with many issues but Chelsea draw offers ...
sport news Ralf Rangnick inherits Man United side with many issues but Chelsea draw offers ...

At some point this week, once the paperwork and bureaucracy is done with, Ralf Rangnick will get on the training ground and start to mould Manchester United in his image.

The highly-respected German coach, incoming from Lokomotiv Moscow when his work permit is finalised, is tasked with rescuing a season that has really plumbed some depths.

Rangnick won't be in the dug-out for Thursday's home game with Arsenal but his influence will certainly be felt.

Eagle-eyed fans suggested Rangnick had a direct line to the United bench during the 1-1 draw at Chelsea because Darren Fletcher was wearing an earpiece.

Gary Neville went as far to suggest Rangnick picked the team - including the big call to bench Cristiano Ronaldo - because it was such a 'huge departure' from the win over Villarreal in midweek.

Ralf Rangnick is on his way as Manchester United's interim coach and there's plenty to do

Ralf Rangnick is on his way as Manchester United's interim coach and there's plenty to do

Man United fans suggested that Darren Fletcher was communicating with Rangnick via an earpiece during the draw at Chelsea

Man United fans suggested that Darren Fletcher was communicating with Rangnick via an earpiece during the draw at Chelsea 

Gary Neville also suggested that Rangnick was already influencing the team selection

Gary Neville also suggested that Rangnick was already influencing the team selection 

Michael Carrick, the interim's interim, denied that but sooner rather than later, United will feel the influence of the the man who mentored Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and many others.

In the circumstances, a point away to the league leaders was a very respectable result for United even if they rode their luck at times.

Sportmail examines the positive signs Rangnick can build on this week and some of the fixes he will need to make if United are to save their season.

THE POSITIVES

Better pressing

The man known as the 'Godfather of the Gegenpress' isn't going to tolerate slackers so it's just as well United's players put in a shift at Stamford Bridge.

Carrick bristled at the suggestion United hadn't been deploying a pressing game this season in his post-match interview on Sky Sports, but there was a noticeable difference here.

Remember the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer asked his players to try and imitate the intense press of Klopp's team?

It was an absolute disaster. A side that innately knows how to press opponents also knows how to play around an opponent pressing them. The result was carnage and United looked amateurish.

Jadon Sancho's pressing of Jorginho resulted in a mistake that gifted United their goal

Jadon Sancho's pressing of Jorginho resulted in a mistake that gifted United their goal

Rangnick was no doubt watching Sunday's game and would have been impressed by the way Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and others in attack acted as the first line of defence when Chelsea had possession.

We can expect a whole lot more of this under Rangnick because it does get results. Against Villarreal, Fred's anticipation of a poor pass from the goalkeeper led to Cristiano Ronaldo opening the scoring.

And the two 'red arrows' Sancho and Rashford hunted down Jorginho in anticipation of a mistake - which duly happened - and led to United's opener.

Rangnick will point to these two examples as he justifies the importance of hard running and pressure.

Sancho celebrates with Marcus Rashford after they combined to force United's opening goal

Sancho celebrates with Marcus Rashford after they combined to force United's opening goal

It's also the way the modern game is. Klopp, Tuchel and Pep Guardiola all demand intensity from their players to win the ball back as quickly as possible. Guardiola puts a six-second clock to the task.

United under Solskjaer somehow saw themselves above all this and a gulf in class has opened up as a result. Rangnick will help close this by implementing what comes naturally to him as a coach.

There are going to be moaners and probably casualties. One could be Cristiano Ronaldo, who only started on the bench on Sunday and quite possibly because he doesn't put a shift in.

Something will have to give - either Ronaldo works harder, which is well within his capacity even at 36, or Rangnick curbs his tactical instincts to accommodate the star and avoid friction.

It will be fascinating to see how this powerplay works out between United's superstar name and the coach who, after all, is only a stop-gap.

Ronaldo's goal against Villarreal last week also resulted from pressing forcing a mistake

Ronaldo's goal against Villarreal last week also resulted from pressing forcing a mistake 

Midfield up for a scrap

United's midfield was virtually non-existent in the games against Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City and Watford that led to Solskjaer's downfall.

There was a giant void in the centre of the park, no grip on proceedings even when the first choice pair of Fred and Scott McTominay were playing, and consequently plenty of space for even modest opponents to exploit.

Sunday was much, much better. Carrick went belt and braces with Fred, McTominay and Nemanja Matic to ensure Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jorginho couldn't influence things. And overall, it worked.

Nemanja Matic gets to grips with Reece James as United's midfield put in a shift on Sunday

Nemanja Matic gets to grips with Reece James as United's midfield put in a shift on Sunday

McTominay put in a marathon shift that would have impressed Rangnick, Fred was tenacious and Matic used his experience to play United out of trouble.

Playing three in midfield was a bespoke tactic to counter Chelsea's many threats. Rangnick won't set his team up that way against Palace, for example, but it was still encouraging.

It was as though all three midfielders were auditioning to keep their place and to deter Rangnick going into the transfer market for that extra defensive midfielder in January.

Importantly, they were all up for the scrap on Sunday and while Chelsea did create plenty of chances, you couldn't say they dominated the midfield battle.

Scott McTominay (right) put in a hard-working shift to ensure United had midfield control

Scott McTominay (right) put in a hard-working shift to ensure United had midfield control

Counter-attacking remains sharp

When United can't gain absolute control of the game with 70 per cent possession, at least there are signs that counter-attacking remains firmly embedded in their DNA.

Their goal at Chelsea was the ultimate example as it stemmed from a Chelsea corner, albeit from Jorginho's mistake.

But that ability to race from one end of the pitch to another remains intact with Sancho, now brimming with confidence after a great week, and Marcus Rashford more than able to lead it.

Their speed, plus Ronaldo's, make United a devastating threat going forward when everything comes together. We just haven't seen too much of it late.

There were signs on Sunday that United still have an incisive edge on the counter-attack

There were signs on Sunday that United still have an incisive edge on the counter-attack 

Man United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Thursday Arsenal (H)

Sunday Crystal Palace (H)

December 8 Young Boys (H)

Champions League group stage

December 11 Norwich

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