Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick knows his team dodged trouble with a poor first half at Brentford — “not good in all aspects of the game,” he said — and he also knows who to thank for the let-off.
Veteran goalkeeper David De Gea made seven saves, several before United found its second-half breakthrough in a 3-1 win over the Bees, as United kept its top-four challenge in shape with a big win.
“He’s been doing that the last couple of weeks, brilliant saves in first half,” De Gea said. “He is one of the best keepers in the world, I would say.”
That doesn’t change the story of the first half, where United was clobbered by Thomas Frank’s Brentford.
Rangnick was not pleased with the effort, but he said there weren’t too many pointed words at halftime that led to the turnaround. United just made some tweaks and put in the work.
“In the second half we were more urgent, attacking higher up the pitch and taking the right decisions in the counterattack and we scored, which is the big difference,” Rangnick said.
The United boss was then asked about Cristiano Ronaldo’s touchy reaction to being substituted, an occurrence that soon had Rangnick sitting next to the Portuguese on the bench.
Rangnick just wanted to remind CR7 that the team had blown a lead recently and that he was returning from injury.
“A striker wants to score but he has come back from a little injury and it was important to remember we have got another game coming up,” Rangnick said. “Also after what happened at Villa Park, we had to defend the lead this time and it was important that we went back to a back five and while we didn’t keep the clean sheet it was important to make sure nothing else happened.”
This remains a winnable run of matches for United, who hosts West Ham in the Premier League before Middlesbrough visits for an FA Cup fourth-round tie. Burnley, Saints, and Leeds are next before the Champions League comes calling with a Round of 16 first leg at Atletico Madrid.