How sweet has Ralf Rangnick found his sojourn at Man United?

A strong wave of excitement greeted Ralf Rangnick’s appointment at Man United. Bookies offered attractive odds on for Man United to make the top four in the Premier League. 

The enthusiasm was understandable. Ralf Ragnick was famed as the German inventor of modern high-pressing football. With a glittering resume including some sweet recommendations from notable football figures like Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, it wasn’t out of place for Man United fans to start dreaming again of their long-sought revival.

Man United badly need relief from Ole

Ole Solksjaer had a mixed tenure at Man United. While he engineered a remarkable late-season resurgence last season to sneak into the Champions League space, Man United’s start to the season under him was outrightly disappointing. 

After big-money moves for Jordan Sancho, Raphael Varane, and a much-publicized re-acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo, punters globally were betting on for Man United to win the Premier League.

But a 4-1 thumping of Man United at Watford got Ole thrown through the window.

Well, things have not been glamorous for Ragnick so far. Six games into his tenure so far, Man United is struggling to establish a concrete football identity. Man United has labored to three wins, two draws, and a defeat.

It becomes worrisome when acknowledged that these games were against sides loitering at the bottom of the table. The most recent defeat to Wolves embarrassingly a Man United side starved of motivation despite boasting an astonishing wealth of top talents. 

Wolves were not lucky at Molineux

At the Molineux, Man United were clearly outplayed by Wolves, with Bruno Lage (Wolves’ coach) making a resounding mockery of Ralf Ragnick’s controversial 4-2-2-2 set up. 

But it would be wrong to say Man United “strangely” collapsed at Wolves. The signs have been conspicuously splattered across the wall for a while now. 

Man United were fortunate to escape with points against Newcastle. Eddie Howe’s side was far better and was only unfortunate not to convert their chances.

We will not mention a downpour of unfortunate injuries Newcastle suffered too. Man United also managed to run away with all three points at against Norwich. 

But it seemed Man United finally ran out of luck – and deservedly so, we may add – when they clashed with Wolves. Man United met more than their match, with the likes of Trincao and Jimenez whipping Man United’s defence with 19 shots.

Of course, these were no stray ambitious shots. Six of them were on target. It took the heroics of De Gea and another (quite an unlucky source) in the form of Jones to keep the scoreline more modest for Man United. 

Yes, things improved in the second half for Man United when Bruno Fernandes came on board and restored a bit of normalcy to the erstwhile blistered Man United midfield. 

Ralf’s tactics leave fans scratching their heads

But then a twin attack led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, supported by a physically fragile platoon of Jordan Sancho and Mason Greenwood, is undoubtedly a questionable tactical setup.

When Ralf Ragnick assumed the hot seat at Man United, the media went ablaze with the promise of high-intensity “gegenpressing”.

We wouldn’t take a billion-dollar bribe to say we have seen that so far at Man United. But then we are not too surprised Man United has failed to deliver that high-intensity pressing Ragnick is renowned for. 

Edinson Cavani and Ronaldo are players significantly past their physical bloom. It hurts to remind Man United faithfuls that the combined age of these men hit an alarming 70 years. Yes, they are that experienced (modest way of saying old).

Ronaldo and Cavani don’t have the physicality required to hassle elite Premier League defenders relentlessly. Remember, most of these defenders are now comfortable with the ball with growing expertise in squeezing passes through tight spaces.

With a forward duo rich in experience but almost bankrupt of physicality, it becomes more alarming why Ragnick chooses to play Jordan Sancho and Mason Greenwood in their support.

These younglings are famed for their technicality and uncommon capacity to dribble through defenders. But they don’t equally excel at winning back the ball.

Repeatedly in the game against Wolves, the midfield department – consisting of Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic – was terribly exposed. 

In several instances of the game, it seemed Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic were light years away from the attack line and also the defense.   

This made it way easier for a rugged Wolves midfield legion of Daniel Podence, Jao Moutinho, and Ruben Neves to run the show in the middle and efficiently feed the attack line. 

Man United is struggling to play as a team

As if the tactical setup was not bad enough, the tendency of each player in Man United’s attack to go solo was acrimonious – if not criminal.

We saw Jordan Sancho attempting to dribble through when it would have been easy to play in Ronaldo. We saw Cavani – who perhaps mistaking himself for Maradona – attempting a Hollywood long-distance shot when he had far better option passing to his teammates on his side on a break. 

Ronaldo himself was any less guilty, making unnecessary dribbles when he could have passed and opened up to receive.

Ralf Ragnick knew his side was a shamble. Worse still, he knows Premier League is an infamous slaughterhouse for managers. 

If he doesn’t get things right soonest, he would be packing his luggage out of Old Trafford.