Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick got a good look at his depth on Wednesday when the Red Devils drew Young Boys in a UEFA Champions League dead rubber at Old Trafford.
There was some good (Mason Greenwood’s ridiculous goal), some bad (the equalizer was an open invitation from United), and plenty for Rangnick to assess regarding Donny van de Beek, Nemanja Matic, and Dean Henderson.
“We shouldn’t be too strict,” Rangnick said, via ManUtd.com. “I was fully aware with this formation and line-up, the players haven’t played together like this. I think the first half-hour was okay, we scored a beautiful goal, we had another two great opportunities. Juan Mata should have scored actually and the same with Amad. At that time, we should have been 2-0, if not 3-0 up and then we made the mistake to get less proactive. We were too deep, we sent several pressing invitations including the goal we conceded.”
Rangnick was not impressed with the cohesiveness of the players, even if he acknowledged the unfamiliarity of the XI.
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And he showed those unfamiliar with his personality that he’s not afraid to hammer home truths in the media as well as the team room, saying that he expected the players to follow his directions on bypassing the first defender with passes (which he says they didn’t do enough).
But boy, oh boy, did he appreciate Mason Greenwood, who scored that technically marvelous, acrobatic goal.
“Not only with the beautiful goal, also the way that he set up the opportunity for Juan Mata,” Rangnick said. “That was brilliant. He is a massive talent. Right foot, left foot, good on the ball, also the way he set up the goal for Fred on Sunday. But still, it is about continuity. He has to develop physically, but technically for his age he is a great player, and my job is to develop him and make an athlete out of him and if he manages to do that, he can become a regular player for this club.”
Again, praise rooted in humility.
United heads to Norwich City on Saturday and Brentford on Tuesday, where they’ll have plenty of time to test themselves against defending that is less than elite.