Manchester United will face Watford in the Premier League for the second time of the season this Saturday in a fixture that has become infamous.
United’s embarrassing 4-1 loss to the southern side earlier on in the season signaled the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at Old Trafford after the Norwegian manager had seemingly survived the gauntlet of fixtures that saw him lose 4-2 to Leicester City, 5- 0 to Liverpool and 2-0 to Manchester City.
Solskjaer could not survive the embarrassment of losing 4-1 to a team struggling to survive relegation and had only won a single game before their giant-killing against United.
Ralf Rangnick was installed as interim manager following Solskjaer’s departure, and there has been a consensus from the fanbase that he has improved the team.
United look like they have experienced some actual coaching in possession and do not leave large gaps on the field for the opposition to exploit.
In recent games (before the Atletico Madrid fixture), United has also been able to create a high number of chances before they lacked creativity, which is a move in the right direction, but the issue is that the forwards have been unable to convert them .
Former United midfielder Paul Scholes, however, remains skeptical of the team under Rangnick, saying to BT Sport after their 1-1 draw with Atletico: “When you say strange performance, I do not think it is strange… it is a typical Man Utd performance these days, since November when this manager came in.
“It’s been very much the same, they have been very lucky to get through games and win games, but you have to say his record is very good. I think his substitutes as well. On Sunday, he made a big call bringing Fred on [and] he scores the winner.
“Tonight, he has made a big call. We were all looking thinking these subs look a little bit strange,” and then Elanga comes on and scores a goal. So it’s not strange for me. It’s just a typical Man Utd performance tonight.
“Man Utd would have taken that result, took your hand off before the game, but they were lucky tonight. I thought they were poor in the way they played.”
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Rangnick was not happy with the way his team played, and he made it clear in his post-match comments, but the result against Atletico was far from the team’s typical performance.
None of the shapes or moves that Rangnick has tried to instill into the squad over the few months he has been in charge was visible, and overall the team looked awe-struck at the task presented to them by Atletico.
Watford will probably show how much the team has progressed, but with games against City and Liverpool shortly and a return leg against Atletico, we will see whether Rangnick’s side can do it on the bigger stage as well.
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