Manchester United’s new manager, Ralf Rangnick, started his reign by welcoming Crystal Palace at home. The South London club have enjoyed coming to play at Old Trafford as of late, having won both of their previous two visits. Rangnick chose to keep the same 11 that had beaten Arsenal Thursday 3-2.
The German Tactician employed a 4-2-2-2 formation with Cristiano Ronaldo in attack along with Marcus Rashford. With Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes in support. Fred and Scott McTominay the defensive two in front of the backline of Alex Telles, Harry McGuire, Victor Lindelof and Diogo Dalot.
United started the match with tons of energy, pressing Palace high up into Palace’s own half. Players looked like they wanted to be there playing for United, getting on the ball as much as possible. Players were trying to make an impression on their boss, showing him why he should keep them in the starting 11. United were the better team by far in the first half, pressing Palace players anytime they had the ball.
United held most of the possession in the first 30 minutes of the match, but again did not make many clear cut chances for themselves. Ronaldo was only able to hit some scuffed shots wide and out for goal kicks. Nothing really troubling Vicente Guaita in goal. Towards the end of the first half it looked like United started to run out of steam a bit, allowing Palace some possession but United’s defense held firm again.
United started the second half just as they had done at the start of the first. They kept Palace in their own half with lot of high tempo pressing and the lion’s share of possession. In the 68th minuted Telles hit a free kick from Palace’s left side of goal, just outside the box. It was a good hit but didn’t dip enough in time and the ball glanced off the upper right corner of the goal.
Just a few minutes later, in the 75th minute, Palace created their best chance of the match. From a corner, Jordan Ayew hit a knockdown header from James Tomkins right across the face of David De Gea’s goal. De Gea wasn’t able to get a hand to it and could only watch, gratefully, as it went right across an open goal and out for a goal kick.
Fred Gets a Late Winner
United’s break through came late in the 77th minute, when after some nice dribbling to get himself free of defenders, substitue Mason Greenwood passed the ball to Fred at the top left of Palace’s box. Fred curled a wonderful shot over a helpless Guaita and into the top corner. The goal would settle a nervous Old Trafford and bring a celebration dance for the new manager.
United looked tired and out of steam towards the end of the match but the defense was able to keep Palaces late attacks at bay and keep a clean sheet as well as all three points for Rangnick’s first match in charge. Suprisingly, this would be United’s first clean sheet at home this season. Having only a week to try to implement his philosophy it looks like everyone is starting to buy into it and United played with an attacking threat fans haven’t seen since Sir Alex was in charge. With “Rangnick at the wheel” United will get back to their Attack, Attack, Attack ways and back to the pinnacle world football again.