Another derby day that has led to disappointment this season. A 4-1 away loss to Manchester City does nothing but emphasise the canyon between the two sides on and off the pitch. To put it into perspective, City produced 24 shots to United’s measly five, whilst also holding us to 31% possession. Another day to forget within an underwhelming season for United. Here are 5 factors to note from the performance and the current situation at the club.
1. The need for a new, reliable strikerEmbed from Getty Images
A younger and more reliable striker to play when Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo cannot is imperative. Marcus Rashford started on the bench and is the closest player United employ that can this role. His impact on games has not been up to his standards ever since he returned from his injury which he needed surgery on, and this has therefore cost him his role in the starting line up being bettered by younger talents like Anthony Elanga.
Regardless of this, Cavani is 35 and Ronaldo is 37 and both their immediate futures are in doubt. It is crucial that United introduce either some younger talent in the squad for example Joe Hugill or Charlie McNeill to boost the numbers for strikers in the team. Or, more productively, sign a forward for the future.
2. The ‘Ronaldo’ situationEmbed from Getty Images
After all the scrutiny surrounding the review of the captaincy and United players allegedly unhappy with the leadership standards. Ronaldo once again adds fuel to the fire by unexpectedly not being part of even the squad for such a key tie to our season.
Of course we cannot take reports to be exact but many suggested differing ideologies. Initially, many reported that Ronaldo was dropped from the squad and in outrage refused to be part of the team and flew to Portugal. As usual, this is clearly false and Rangnick addressed his absence with a hip flexor injury which he flew to Portugal for treatment for. Even though this is most likely to be true, Rangnick still seemed unimpressed by the fact he decided to fly away and not stay with the squad. This still suggests some clear leadership problems and maybe even trust issues and a lack of respect between the staff and the players.
3. Defensive troublesEmbed from Getty Images
With Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw both unavailable for the clash with City, there were doubts about how United were going to set up against such a talented city attack.
Defensively, United were once again shambolic. When Varane is absent, the Red Devils seemingly just let the floodgates open. David de Gea produced four world-class saves but also conceded four, the reasons for this however are the back four in front of him. Surprisingly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka also started over the in-form Diogo Dalot. This resulted in him being targeted and the City wingers embarrassed him. Maguire was laughable in some instances and Lindelof didn’t follow up with his form either. What angers fans the most however is the midfield pairing – McTominay and Fred’s typically abysmal showing indicates how much a defence rejuvenation is needed. For two players that represent passion and desire to battle, neither of them showcased this. If United want to achieve, the defensive set-up needs to change.
4. Ralf Rangnick is not the answerEmbed from Getty Images
Allegedly, United have started considering their options after Rangnick. Ajax manager Erik Ten Haag and PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino are seemingly on the cards.
It is somewhat unfair on Rangnick as he has inherited a bad situation to be present in. But his performances and drama surrounding him showcase that he is unlikely to be the man to fill the role for the coming seasons. It will be interesting to see how he will work alongside our current board of directors and along with the incoming manager.
5. Jadon Sancho shines despite an abysmal collective displayEmbed from Getty Images
The £73m signing continues to shine. Sancho in the first half showed the exceptional talent he is. A crucial goal against his old club in such immense conditions shows what he can bring to the squad, he is a big-game player. This made it his 5th goal for the Red Devils and he is still just getting started.
Sancho has taken his time to get his form going but he is showing great confidence on the ball, with his dribbling and chance creation becoming his best asset. He will be a very key player for United in the future, and he will likely hold down his position in the starting line-up for some time. Even with the abundance of wingers that United possess, he is by far the best in the squad.