It was a fairytale first victory for Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford as Manchester United snuck past a defensively compact Crystal Palace 1-0.
In a game filled with much hype and anticipation, the Red Devils were the brighter of the two sides, exploding out of the blocks with a new-look counter-pressing style in a 4-2-2-2 formation, going after their opposition high and winning possession back early.
Chances were in fairly short supply, however, as half opportunities for Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes went begging as Alex Telles hit the top of the crossbar with a fizzed free kick just shy of midway through the second half.
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United struggled in the second half to break down the organisation of the Palace defence as Patrick Vieira's men held firm, but Rangnick had the last laugh: Fred, a divisive name throughout the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer regime, was trusted in the engine room by the new manager, and the Brazilian curled a right-footed effort into the top corner on 77 minutes to send the home fans into raptures and devastate Vieira, who would have felt that his side's defensive resilience had been deserving of an unlikely point.
Not quite the perfect performance, but the ideal start for the new man in the hotseat, as United march on to an enticing run of fixtures where Rangnick can really get his teeth into his new side.

Fred of Manchester United celebrates with team mates after scoring their side's first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford

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We had thought perhaps Rangnick would shake things up a tad in his managerial debut in English football, and whilst he kept the starting 11 from the Arsenal victory constant, he tinkered with the formation, adopting the 4-2-2-2 that we had seen him use at Red Bull Leipzig.
Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes tucked behind Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford on either side, but their positions weren't concrete, and the fluidity allowed by the manager meant that United looked more dangerous as the front four rotated positionally and caused the Palace defensive unit a real headache.
Diogo Dalot and Telles were then given licence to bomb forwards on the overlap and maintain the width, and Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof kept a high line, hardly seen under Solskjaer, as the hosts threatened to turn up the heat.
We've said already that the performance wasn't complete, but in the very early dawnings of the new reign, it's looking mightily positiive for Manchester United.


Man Utd: de Gea 6, Dalot 7, Lindelof 7, Maguire 7, Telles 7, McTominay 6, Fred 7, Fernandes 7, Rashford 5, Sancho 7, Ronaldo 6, Greenwood 6, Elanga 6, van de Beek 6.
Palace: Guaita 7, Clyne 6, Tomkins 7, Guehi 7, Mitchell 6, Kouyate 6, Gallagher 6, Schlupp 6, Ayew 6, Zaha 6, Benteke 6, Edouard 6, Olise 6, Eze 6.

Ralf Rangnick (r.) erstmals an der Seitenlinien von Manchester United

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A constant threat down the right flank.
The Portuguese will go under the radar when considering the star names United had on the field, but the right-back was quietly a real highlight, getting forwards and delivering dangerous crosses, whilst keeping his defensive duties done and secure as he oversaw a threat of both Wilfried Zaha and Odsonne Edouard, dealing with both exceptionally well.
He may only be standing in for Aaron Wan-Bissaka momentarily, but Dalot has showed in his last two games that he is good enough for this level, and more importantly, deserves more opportunities to show what he can to dislodge Wan-Bissaka as the first choice number two.


19: Dalot's inswinging cross from the right is in towards Ronaldo, but his looping header is over the top.
26': Another ball floated up for Ronaldo; the striker's knock down, and Fernandes! Saved well on the stretch by Guaita.
33': Maguire's quick free kick is fizzed in for Sancho on the left, and he darts inside, with his shot deflected looping over for the corner.
45': Dalot does really well, linking with McTominay, but his curling shot is just over the top!
77': GOALLLL!!!! There it is! They finally break through! It's Fred for Manchester United! A curling effort into the far corner, and there's the first goal of the new era!


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