- On the eve of the 80th birthday of Sir Alex, United returned to winning ways following the indifferent performance against Newcastle, beating a typically robust Burnley side on the way to playing some entertaining attacking football, hence pleasing the 75,000 fans that packed Old Trafford in this last match of 2021. It was the third win of Rangnick’s tenure from four matches in the Premiership and possibly the best performance also since the new Manager took the reins. United started on the front foot and within ten minutes, McTominay had put us in front with a sublime placed strike from the edge of the area. In the absence of Fernandes, the front four of Sancho, Greenwood, Cavani and Ronaldo looked lively and dangerous whenever we had the ball and the it was Jadon who doubled the score with a well taken goal, albeit assisted by the slightest of touches from Burnley captain Mee. Another McTominay strike from 25 yards looked destined for the top corner if it wasn’t for the Burnley keeper’s stunning intervention. He could only push the shot to the post though and when it bounced back in play, Ronaldo was at the right place to side foot in an empty net. United were cruising at this point and against the run of play, Lennon took advantage from a Bailly misplaced pass to run at our defence and squeeze the ball to the far corner where De Gea could not reach. That is how the half ended and indeed the match, as the second half did not offer much excitement, with United earning the three points and moving up to sixth in the table despite playing less matches.
- Rangnick is known in Germany as the godfather of German coaches, a tag which shows the respect that the United manager holds back home. What he certainly brings to the club is a wealth of experience in moving clubs forward and managing a group of players. These factors were evident to me in his team selection for the Burnley match. The press labelled it as “Rangnick ringing the changes after the Newcastle performance”, but I don’t think that was the whole truth. Shaw was not fit for the Manager’s first match and Telles came in and did well, so deserved to keep his place but now with the matches coming thick and fast, Luke came in and did very well. Same story with Dalot, so that was easy. Cavani scored in the Newcastle match and his selection was expected. I think Rashford will fight it out with Ronaldo and Cavani for the two spots up front for the rest of the season, so Sancho and Greenwood were the obvious choices for the two ‘number ten’ roles, with Fernandes suspended. The other two changes were more revealing in my eyes of the level of experience and knowledge that Rangnick brings to the table despite just joining United. Matic coming in for Fred was to increase the height of the team with the knowledge that Burnley are very dangerous from dead balls. You don’t have to be Einstein but still shows that awareness and ability to take decisions. Bailly being called from the Ivory Coast camp and deployed right away in place of Varane was not a punishment for the mistake against Newcastle that led to their goal but just man management. Varane is arguably the best defender in the Premier League when he is match fit but coming from almost three months on the sidelines, there was never a possibility that Rangnick would play him in the three matches over the six-day holiday period. Bailly was called in and Varane was given a break and I am sure that he will return against Wolves. This strategy reminded me of Sir Alex and how he used to look not just to the upcoming match when selecting his team but to the three matches ahead. He did not always get it right but Sir Alex was a master in strategy, wasn’t he? I am not comparing. I will not go there. But I am just highlighting managerial experience and its benefits for a club. I would like to discuss the body language of the players but it will be in one of the next articles.
- Luke Shaw was excellent as was Sancho against Burnley but I think most will agree that Scott was head and shoulders above the rest of his team-mates and gets my special mention. Scott epitomises the fight and determination of a captain in my eyes. He might not be a world beater but he is learning all the time and I can see him battling for United in our midfield for plenty of years to come.
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Article contributed by Contributor Roderick. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.