Home » Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United a work in progress with big tests yet to come

Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United a work in progress with big tests yet to come

by Scott Eckersley

Manchester United fans would be justified in wondering if Ralf Rangnick has spent sleepless nights mulling over the scale of his task at Old Trafford.

The 63-year-old has often had a full plate of unpalatable gruel to stomach since he took on the United job back in early December.

Along with doubts about his ability to mould the side in his own image, he’s also had to deal with talk of low morale, dressing room rifts, poor performances and truly shocking allegations about player conduct.

Worryingly, it feels like wherever the club goes, the circus is sure to follow. But, putting aside the near-deafening cacophony of background noise, how has Rangnick done so far?

Predictably, it took time for the German’s ideas to take root, but there have been encouraging recent signs that the team could be starting to bloom.

After promising but bitty displays against the likes of Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Brentford, the Reds enjoyed their most complete performance of the season against top four rivals West Ham.

Although they needed a last-gasp winner from Marcus Rashford to bag the points, Rangnick will surely have been encouraged by his side’s measure of control over a dangerous opponent.

For what felt like the first time in an age United defended well, mostly limiting the Hammers to half-chances. They also registered three times as many shots as the visitors, who managed just one effort on target.

It was the culmination of a collection of stop-motion improvements that started with a composed 60 minutes at Villa Park and was followed by an impressive second half in the win at Brentford.

The former Schalke coach has also bolstered his reputation as a nurturer by coaxing impressive showings from such formerly marginalised figures as Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles.

However, it’s Rangnick’s influence over Anthony Elanga that has been most eye-catching. The young Swede has been plucked from the first team fringes to become an exciting and industrious addition to the Reds’ attack.

All things considered, the influential coach has quietly gone about bringing stability and order to a team that had appeared to be in disarray.

That said, the real tests come towards the end of this month, starting with a tough looking Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid.

Rangnick will be need to accelerate the current growth if the club is to turn what threatened to be another dismal season into the beginning of a bright new era.

If he does, the calls for him to be given a prolonged crack at the job might just get a few decibels louder.

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