With the news breaking earlier in the week, that the German professor Ralf Rangnick will be joining Manchester United as the new interim coach for six months and a further two years in a consultancy role. A visit to Stamford Bridge was possibly the first and last game of the Michael Carrick Premier League era. The match against top of the table Chelsea ended in a 1-1 draw with Jadon Sancho getting his first Premier League goal for Manchester United.
Just like Tuesday, there were similar eyebrows raised as the United teamsheet came out before the game with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo dropped from the starting XI.
Story of the game
There was early pressure from the hosts – the threat was evident from Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi constantly creating goal-scoring opportunities and chances from United’s right-hand side. It wasn’t clear how United would shape up with the lineup – 4-3-3 off the ball and 4-4-2 on the ball. The first 20 mins United were compact and in a mid to low block depending on which phase of the pitch Chelsea had possession. And when United did pre, Chelsea would play through it with ease.
Chelsea’s dominance of possession came with several chances that forced David de Gea to save and even the odd coming out to sweep the loose through ball. A shot from the left side of the six-yard box by Hudson-Odoi drew a strong low save from de Gea. And a stat that emphasized that was Chelsea completed 46 touches in the opposition box compared to United’s 7 in the first half.
United confidence grew as the first half went on, the Reds had decent possession higher up with the pitch with wide overloads specifically from the left when Rashford and Fred combined to carve out a half-chance but was cut out by Antonio Rüdiger but the intent was there.
5 mins into the first half the deadlock was broken, surprisingly by United. Sancho latched onto a Jorginho mistake from a poor touch and once he entered the box he was composed to sit down Edouard Mendy and slot it past him.Embed from Getty Images
Once United scored it and they really took the game to Chelsea for 20 mins. The midfield of Nemanja Matić, Scott McTominay, and Fred were able to grab some sort of control of the game – confidence on the ball was able to open up space between the halfspaces of the Chelsea center-backs with Rüdiger and Chalobah being too aggressive in setting out and leaving space either side of the stranded Thiago Silva for United.
But a lack of concentration from Aaron Wan-Bissaka led to the right-back giving away a penalty by clipping Thiago Silva and missing out on the ball and it was harsh but silly. Jorginho was able to calmly convert the penalty with his trademark hop, skip and jump deceiving de Gea as he dives the wrong way.
The last 20 mins were frantic, to say the least, United subbed Ronaldo onto the game but the sub felt forced rather than tactical as the Pouturgesse seemed powerless as the game dwindle to the end. Former Red Romelu Lukaku came on as well but similarly to Ronaldo he seemed like the game went by him and had little to no effect on his team’s chances of winning the game. A late Rüdiger chance was remarkably blasted over the bar and that would be the final kick of the game.
In what seems to be the beginning of a new era with Ralf Rangnick’s arrival seemingly close. There were positives to that United performance that the German will be intrigued by – Fred and Matić were phenomenal out and in of possession and the Jadon Sancho looks to be a player who’s coming into his own with another well-rounded performance.
Certain players are going to have performed considerably better than this if they are to have a future under the German revolution of Ralf Rangnick. And for a manager world-renowned for his intense style of play the level of work will have to go up if United are to turn their season around.