Dear Ralf Rangnick… Please stop substituting the young players

Dear Ralf Rangnick,

Why do you keep substituting players in a seeming order of youngest to oldest? I don’t understand it.

Manchester United have been hot and cold with results recently (well, more like lukewarm and freezing), and it’s really getting the fans down. I understand that it has been a very rocky first few weeks for you at the club, with games being called off and training being cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreaks, but we as fans are not having any fun right now.

I have some bones to pick with regard to the nature of your substitutions.

The first one is about Mason Greenwood. Why is he always the first player off? In the 6 matches he has started under your leadership, he has been substituted 4 times. Mason Greenwood is, in my opinion, the best finisher at the club bar maybe Cristino Ronaldo; however, he is certainly a lot more mobile than the 36 year old.

Being much younger than players such as Edinson Cavani and Ronaldo, would it not be a better idea to have him up front instead of Cavani when you’re level at 2-2 with 10 minutes to go, as United were last night?

Cavani, although he is a brilliant striker at his best, was less than visible last night. It felt at times like we were playing with 10 men – and when he did have the ball in the final minutes, he did nothing of value with it.

It feels like, to me, Mason Greenwood would add much more value in these situations if you were to have him playing through the middle and substitute someone such as Jadon Sancho or Jesse Lingard on the right-hand side to fill in for Greenwood out wide at the expense of Cavani.

You would have Greenwood up front, fresh legs on the right and the pure speed of Anthony Elanga on the left with 15 minutes to go…

On the subject of Elanga, why is he coming off with 12 minutes to go while you’re 2-1 up but on the back foot? He is definitely the quickest player on the pitch at that moment in time, something which I feel is a highly effective asset to have when you’re preparing to face an onslaught of crosses from Matty Cash and Philipe Coutinho.

I feel like substituting Sancho on for Elanga while keeping Cavani upfront only harmed United’s ability to readjust the game state at that given moment. Even if Elanga did come off with a knock, this meant there would have been no substitutions until the 89th minute of the match.

Moving on from last night specifically and speaking more generally, what is with keeping Jadon Sancho on the bench? In the last few games when he has played, he has been one of United’s better performers, for sure within the top 4 – so surely he should be given a chance to continue to develop this form, rather than thrown on with a few minutes left and expected to stop United losing?

Jadon Sancho is an incredibly high-value asset, however, the evidence from his time at Borrusia Dortmund shows that he sometimes takes a few games to get the ball rolling before he can start producing the incredible displays that we all know he’s capable of.

So why not give him that time? He was great in your first game against Crystal Palace as he was a great dictator of momentum in that match – although he did not score or assist, he had more touches per minute than any other United player on the pitch… yet you brought him off in the 62nd minute.

Cavani and Ronaldo are not going to be around for long. With Cavani leaving this summer, Ronaldo leaving either this or next summer and Anthony Martial potentially leaving this January, there is a serious gap that’s about to appear with regards to our strikers.

Our Premier League season is starting to look like we have nothing to fight for anyway. We’ve ended up in a situation where the only trophies worth fighting for are the Champions League and FA Cup, both knockout tournaments (aka Ronaldo’s bread and butter).

Why not start playing our younger strikers in the league?

Give Mason Greenwood a run of games in the No.9 spot. Give Jadon Sancho time to put his ridiculous talent to use. You could even give Donny van de Beek a chance for a change…

In your initial press conference, you mentioned a number of times why the DNA of Manchester United needs to be respected.

“The legacy of this club is unique. There are not that many clubs with such a history and DNA. It’s not only a legacy, it’s something that everybody who has the pleasure of working for this club, we have to follow this legacy and make sure that the DNA will also be respected, always be respected.”

Everything I have highlighted above fits into what you are talking about. Making multiple changes in the 89th minute when we are chasing a win is not what this club is built on. Not giving players chances, not trusting players to play, not having faith in any underperforming youngster yet playing underperforming veterans despite their performances just does not sound like Manchester United to me.

You can’t win anything with kids” is the famous phrase. “You can’t win anything with a bunch of underperforming older players who get rewarded with continued starts despite their poor form” is the more accurate one.

To conclude, the nature of a lot of your substitutions are really irritating me. They seem completely counterproductive to the nature of the game states they are made in, and the personnel selections within the substitutions make little sense to me.

Obviously, there’s a reason that you’re the one in control of the Manchester United first team and I’m the one sitting behind a laptop writing about it and not the other way around, but I can’t help but think that these 89th minute double changes and 60th minute ‘let’s take off the young one’ changes just aren’t working.

Yours Sincerely,


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