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Why Man United struggled at Newcastle: Ralf Rangnick has a lot of work ahead of him

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Why Man United struggled at Newcastle: Ralf Rangnick has a lot of work ahead of him

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Manchester United’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle after 16 game-less days was as bad as anything served under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

While Ralf Rangnick had any doubts about the scale of the task ahead at Manchester United, he was keenly aware of how difficult the next few months were as he watched his side struggle to earn a point from relegation. threatened Newcastle on Monday.

There have been countless examples that could have left Rangnick wondering if this group of players were capable of executing their style of football. Like Fred losing one of his 43 passes, the many times Newcastle have danced across his team’s back line where Bruno Fernandes has lost the ball 26 times.

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Based on the display at St James’ Park, the interim manager needs to get back to basics before even considering a new style and roster if he is to save their Premier League top-four hopes this season.

Rangnick stood on the sideline, shaking his head and rubbing his forehead, and, with half an hour on the clock, he shrugged to suggest he had no idea why they were behaving the way they were. ‘were. There was an air of disbelief.

The German entered this match with confidence after returning the majority of his squad to great shape after the shutdown imposed by COVID. Now, after three league games in his tenure, he will be more aware than ever of the work that falls on him. It didn’t take long to sort out these issues either; Burnley at home awaits Thursday night.

So what is the problem? Is the new 4-2-2-2 formation too complex for players to pick up on? Are the players not being used to their full potential?

Fernandes, for example, doesn’t look like a natural fit on the right side and the lack of quality in midfield leaves United heavily exposed in the center as the top four push forward.

While the move to a 4-1-3-2 formation in the second half against Newcastle saw a slight improvement, the fundamental problems persisted and reinforced the idea that it is not necessarily the system that is the bigger problem.

“It wasn’t a training issue, it was a problem of energy and intensity,” Rangnick said afterwards. “Also in speed, how we play in these one-on-one duels. It’s something we need to improve.”

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The former RB Leipzig coach’s problems with this Manchester United side are twofold. First, there are too many straightforward and technical mistakes and second, they lack intensity and aggressiveness. Former defenseman Gary Neville believes the latter is a behavior and attitude issue.

“These are a bunch of backpacks, their arms were in the air. They were shocking in the first half. They fired the last manager and they’re going to fire a lot of managers like that, ”he told Sky Sports at halftime.

“Whingebags” is probably a new term for Rangnick to get some idea. While he admits there are bigger issues, the body language and attitudes of players need to change. This is one of the reasons Jadon Sancho started the game on the bench.

Fernandes was booked for dissent, Ronaldo was fortunate enough not to be sent off for a challenge against Ryan Fraser – born out of frustration – and every member of the starting XI was guilty of throwing their arms up and complaining to a teammate.

United lack control and precision, but the players also seem to lack confidence in themselves and each other. It’s no wonder Rangnick wanted to call on Sascha Lense as a sports psychologist. There is no cohesion or method of attack, there are constant problems in defense – as evidenced by the preparation for Allan Saint-Maximin’s first goal – and problems with possession and withdrawal.

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These are all issues associated with Rangnick’s predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and although the new man has only had a few weeks to get his ideas across, and that term was punctuated by a COVID-19 outbreak that has shut down the training ground, the display at Newcastle was as abject as anything under Solskjaer.

Rangnick knows what he wants but the players need to step up, as Edinson Cavani did during United’s equalizer.

It is hardly surprising that the interim manager “did not like the performance at all”.

“In three days we have the next game. We can do better, but we have to do it. We should not be looking for excuses. We have to be better and become more physical,” he said.

No matter the discussions of different systems and coordinated attack formations, Rangnick has to start with the basics before he can start building something of his own.

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