Paul Parker: Forget unbeaten start, Ralf Rangnick must shift dead wood at Manchester United and buy in January
Former Manchester United defender Paul Parker reflects on the start of the Ralf Rangnick era at Old Trafford, and whether any conclusions can be drawn from a narrow win over Crystal Palace and Champions League dead rubber against Young Boys. Rangnick is unbeaten so far, but does he have the personnel to play his preferred system? Parker is doubtful...
Rangnick took 'risk' as second string Man Utd side held by Young Boys
The good thing from the first two games under Ralf Rangnick is that Manchester United are unbeaten. I am not going to start jumping up and beating drums, because United have had so many false dawns before. It is still the same players.
I didn’t fall into the trap of saying how good things were against Crystal Palace last weekend. They were better, because they had a bit of structure and organisation, but it was only against a side who were very, very poor for 45 minutes. You also can’t take anything from the Champions League game against Young Boys, except that a few youngsters were given a run.
It all starts now. We will see what happens next. Rangnick doesn’t change from his system, but has he got the personnel to play that way? I don’t think he does. He hasn’t got the personnel there that will make sure that Manchester United qualify for the Champions League.
Ralf Rangnick of Manchester United gestures during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester United and BSC Young Boys at Old Trafford on December 8, 2021 in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Image credit: Getty Images
The middle of midfield is still a problem. As much as you can change the style, if you make it too attacking, the midfield is still going to be an issue, unless they can improve drastically. You haven't got the resources in midfield that are able to play that way. Fred is the likeliest – he is more dynamic. Ball retention is key.
I think he will also be looking at his full-backs and his front line heading into January. At right-back, Diogo Dalot has done alright. He is capable and better in the final third than Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and able to get more crosses in to the box. I still believe he is going to want to improve that position, if not this season then next season, certainly.
It is no different at left-back. Alex Telles has got a run of games due to Luke Shaw's injury and I think he has done well. I would be very surprised if Telles doesn’t play against Norwich, even with Shaw back in training.
If he wants to play his system, he can’t continue to pick Marcus Rashford, either. I think he has got to look at Mason Greenwood more - he is someone who can play wide and centrally. Greenwood needs a run of games otherwise he will start getting disillusioned. He’ll be asking himself: “Why can’t I get in the team after Marcus Rashford's recent performances?”.
Last night was a good opportunity to look at youngsters up against players who have been playing European football for a few years, much as though Young Boys aren’t a great side. It was an easy game to give them a chance because Manchester United were already through. It gives Rangnick a better idea of where they are, and it is clear that they are not yet ready to play in the Premier League.