Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa: Rangnick reaction
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Manchester United ensured they bounced back from last weekend’s horror show against Wolves to beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the FA Cup on Monday night. It was a big victory for Ralf Rangnick, who already finds himself under pressure just a month into his reign. However, despite the win, the performances of wingers Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford means there’s cause for concern at Old Trafford.
Manchester United were abysmal against Wolves last time out, going down 1-0 after Joao Moutinho struck in the closing stages.
And while they weren’t at their thrilling best against Aston Villa, they were still able to get the job done.
On a night where United missed the attacking threat of Cristiano Ronaldo, Scott McTominay popped up with the winner – excellently heading home Fred’s curling cross.
The Red Devils had to ride their luck at times, especially with Danny Ings seeing a goal chalked off by VAR, but were still able to get over the line.
There were, of course, positives from the performance.
David De Gea was sublime again, with the Spain international continuing to rediscover the form that once made him one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.
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Diogo Dalot looked a threat after being picked ahead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, while McTominay was slick and solid in the middle of the park.
However, the performances of academy graduates Rashford and Greenwood were again alarming.
Neither looked a threat. Greenwood was the better of the two but every shot he managed was straightforward for Emiliano Martinez in the Villa goal.
Rashford, yet again, cut a subdued figure. When one of Greenwood’s shots was fluffed by Martinez, on a rare occasion, it seemed he couldn’t be bothered to try and score with the rebound.
Both players, at present, have lost their form.
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Rashford has now gone 11 games without a goal and, while that’s less than his 17-game goal drought five years ago, is the bigger cause for concern.
The 23-year-old hasn’t been the same player since having shoulder surgery. That was meant to see him improve but, instead, he’s regressing.
In his last 10 outings, he’s managed just one assist – managed in the stirring 3-2 win over Arsenal at the start of December.
In the five games since, the 24-year-old has been flat – coming off in two of them and only playing 14 minutes against Wolves last time out.
Rangnick addressed his No 10’s slump after the match with Villa but the German isn’t keen to panic just yet.
“Actually I don’t know,” he said when asked why Rashford was out of sorts.
“I think he’s trying hard. In training he was doing well in the last couple of days, that’s why he was quite rightly in the starting XI.
“I think in the first half we found him quite often, but we also tried to get him into the box.”
He then added: “Of course it would be good, for example, for Marcus if he could score a goal but as long as he’s trying, as long as he’s training well I don’t see that much of a problem.”
Greenwood is a lesser concern, but still one nonetheless.
The England international can look bright at times but there’s a selfishness to him that Rangnick needs to address.
On three occasions he cut inside on his favoured left foot when there were better options available, with all of his efforts easy for Martinez to save – including the one the Argentine fluffed.
He’s scored just once since his thunderbolt strike against Leicester in October, with that goal coming against minnows Young Boys in the Champions League.
So while Rangnick can point to his side being better defensively, his side’s attacking edge has been blunted.
Bruno Fernandes, too, produced a drab display.
But with Rashford and Greenwood so out of sorts, the Portugal international can’t solve every issue by himself despite the talent he possesses.
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