Home » Manchester United’s progress under Ralf Rangnick discussed by Gary Neville

Manchester United’s progress under Ralf Rangnick discussed by Gary Neville

by Scott Eckersley

Manchester United went into the weekend’s game against Crystal Palace on a tide of optimism that couldn’t be stemmed by Ralf Rangnick’s insistence that it would take time to instil his philosophy.

Pre-match it seemed unrealistic then to expect a miraculous transformation from a disjointed group of individuals into a disciplined and high-pressing attacking unit.

It came as a pleasant surprise then to see that, at least for the opening half an hour, the Reds already appeared to have absorbed some of Rangnick‘s main principles.

United simply flew out of the traps. They harassed Palace into making errors, won the ball high up the pitch and limited Patrick Vieira’s Eagles to half-chances.

Reds’ legend Gary Neville was clearly impressed, as he used his MNF platform on Sky Sports to present a host of stats that highlight just how much progress seemed to have been made in a very short space of time.

As covered by United district, it reads: Gary Neville compares the statistics from MUFC’s first game under Ralf Rangnick to the rest of the season’s average (in brackets).

Shots faced (14.6) – 8
On target faced (4.90) – 2
XG Against (1.6) – 0.7
Tackles (13.6) – 24
Duels won (44.8) – 55
Poss. won final third (4.1) – 12
Opp. passes per def. action (14.7) – 10
Distance covered km (105) – 101
Sprints (135.4) – 132

See also our recent article for more impressive statistics from this match.

Neville points out that United almost halved the seasonal average for shots faced (8 compared to 14.6) with only 2 of the Eagles’ shots on target.

Similarly, the XG against was more than halved, with the opposition XG being cut from an average of 1.6 to just 0.7.

Neville was equally impressed by the volume of United’s tackles, which shot up from a seasonal average of just 13.6 to a highly respectable 24.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the match, certainly in the first-half, was how pro-active the home team were off the ball.

This is borne out by an eye-catching stat highlighting how United won the ball 12 times in the final third – roughly three times the seasonal average.

Does this sudden upswing in intensity mean that United just worked harder than they had under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? That they’d been holding back under the Norwegian?

Maybe not. Surprisingly, Neville’s stats actually show a decrease in both work rate and sprints. In his words, this suggests that the Red Devils were working smarter, rather than harder.

It’s really encouraging stuff for such an early stage in the process. And it’s worth remembering that United seemed to lose some intensity in the 2nd half, which is understandable considering the change in tempo and accumulated fatigue.

In short, it seems fair to expect even better performances as the new coach’s methods become ingrained in the current playing squad.

Fans will no doubt be looking forward to seeing if the new-look Reds can maintain the current momentum in tomorrow night’s Champions League tie against Young Boys.

With the cloud of negativity that clung to the tail end of Solskjaer’s reign beginning to fade, it feels like Rangnick’s arrival has brought with it some long-overdue positivity. Long may it continue.

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