Sixteen days after Manchester United scraped a narrow 1-0 victory against Norwich, another unconvincing performance from interim manager Ralf Rangnick‘s men left the Red Devils grateful for a point.
Much has been made of the physical demands of the new manager’s pressing system, however once again his team looked ill-conditioned and slow to react when potential pressing opportunities arose, and were even worse in possession of the ball. Certainly another chance for Rangnick to reflect on the enormity of the task that awaits him.
How the game unfolded
A sloppy Maguire mistake just minutes after kickoff set the tone for an embarrassing first half from the Old Trafford outfit, with Saint-Maximin’s goal on seven minutes following shortly afterwards. For the remainder of the first period, United consistently donated possession back to their opposition, gifting several counter attacking opportunities to the aforementioned Saint-Maximin and Joelinton – the best players on the night.
As often as United gave the ball away in the first half, equally frustrating was the arm waving and finger pointing that followed, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford seeming more interested in finding ways to express their dissatisfaction than making amends.
At half time, Rangnick made clear his discontent with a double substitution: Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho replacing Fred and the ineffective Mason Greenwood. This shifted the formation to a 4-1-3-2, with Scott McTominay alone in protecting the defence, and Bruno Fernandes playing more centrally in order to unlock the defence.
On 71 minutes, Fernandes found a useful central pocket and turned smartly, playing a ball wide for Diogo Dalot, who found Cavani with an excellent cross from the right side. The Uruguayan’s first shot was blocked, but he found the net calmly with the rebound to level the score.
Overall, a draw was harsh on Newcastle, with David De Gea making multiple brilliant saves to prevent the magpies from doubling their tally throughout the game.
Another poor performance – reaction
After a long break due to COVID ripping through Carrington, captain Harry Maguire was quick to point to this as a reason for the underwhelming effort – commenting that “the training ground has been shut, half the lads playing today are recovering from the virus. So, of course, it is not going to help us. We don’t want to use it as an excuse, but, of course, it has a big impact on the game.“
Meanwhile, his manager Ralf Rangnick was more focused on how events unfolded on the pitch, noting that “our biggest problem was the mistakes that we made, the giveaways, the unforced errors when we were in possession of the ball, we just had too many balls that we just gave away.“
Ultimately another unconvincing performance, with the German’s team lacking any control over the game, both in possession and out. Fortunately, the next game, and the next chance to take a forward step, is just days away.