Man Utd’s Ralf Rangnick revival fails to materialise
Should the ‘godfather of gegenpress’ be worried?
When Ralf Rangnick arrived at Manchester United in November, he was “meant to be an upgrade” on Ole Gunnar Solskjær, said Josh Wright in The Guardian. The club’s previous boss had been “questioned and mocked throughout his time in charge”, in part because of his inexperience as a top-level manager. No one, by contrast, could accuse the “godfather of gegenpress” – as the 63-year-old Rangnick is known – of being a lightweight. “Big things were expected.”
Yet three months into the German’s tenure, it’s hard to see what difference he has made. United’s form hasn’t noticeably improved: they’ve won just three of their last seven Premier League games, and drew 1-1 against bottom-placed Burnley. They are consistently struggling to find the net: all their main strikers appear out of sorts, and Cristiano Ronaldo was goalless for six games – his longest drought for 13 years. For now, United remain within touching distance of an all important top four place, but with fixtures against Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool coming up, “Rangnick should be worried”.
One puzzling aspect of United’s recent form is that they keep squandering half-time leads, said Carl Anka on The Athletic. In three of their recent games, they have “gone in at half-time leading 1-0 and playing well, only to reach the 65th minute with the score tied at 1-1”. This week saw a partial recovery, with Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes on target in a 2-0 win against Brighton on Tuesday. But it seems the team can maintain Rangnick’s favoured playing style only for so long before fatigue and indiscipline set in.
United is a club which considers itself “elite level”, yet is currently anything but, said Paul Hirst in The Times. The most expensive private boxes at Old Trafford, in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, cost a staggering £210,000 a year. At what point do the owners of such boxes think: “is this really worth it?”