Two things Rangnick got right and two he got wrong as Man Utd seal Norwich win

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Manchester United overcame a resilient Norwich City side, as Cristiano Ronaldo’s fierce penalty ensured Ralf Rangnick’s first Premier League ended in victory.

Ronaldo smashed home a 74th-minute penalty, after Norwich full-back Rolando Aarons bundled over the Portuguese hitman in the penalty area.

However, teething problems were evident, as United performance had plenty of aggressive spark, but very little creativity and penetrating in the final third.

Ronaldo had the first meaningful chance of the game, as Scott McTominay recycled the ball into the path or the Portuguese star, who jinked past Giannoulis and Kabak, before stinging the pals of Tim Krul with his left foot.

Seconds after Krul’s fine stop, Norwich came very close to inflicting an impressive counterpunch, as Diogo Dalot’s last ditch tackle prevented Teemu Pukki firing past David de Gea from close range.

Krul came to Dean Smith’s side’s rescue on the stroke of half time again, after he impressively tipped Harry Maguire’s dipping header over the crossbar.

Smith’s side emerged from the half-time break as a more aggressive and threatening side.

Canaries’ hitman Pukki came agonisingly close to opening the scoring when he created some space on the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a fierce effort with his left foot, but De Gea flew across his goal to tip the effort over the crossbar.

However, United found the breakthrough from the penalty spot as Ronaldo won and converted the spot-kick to seal put the Red Devils ahead. Norwich pushed for an equaliser, but United managed to close out a second consecutive 1-0 victory in the Premier League.

Daily Star Sport considers two things Rangnick got right and two he got wrong.

What Rangnick got right?

Mctominay and Fred

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was regularly derided by United fans for deploying McTominay alongside Fred, but nobody is questioning their partnership now.

The United midfield duo always seemed to gravitate towards their back four under the Norwegian, but they have been on the front foot since Rangnick’s arrival.

Norwich’s counterattacks were regularly confronted by a Red midfield wall, as McTominay and Fred repeatedly won the ball back and cut off all passing lanes through the midfield.

Moreover, there was also a fabulous industriousness and efficiency with their distribution from midfield, as their instinctive quick passes through the Yellow lines brought the United defence and attacking line together.

It was that very urgency which led to United’s best chance of the first-half, as McTominay won the ball back before shifting the ball into Ronaldo’s path, who on another day, may have opened the scoring.

Ronaldo and Rashford together

When Rangnick first took up the United wheel, the conundrum of where Ronaldo would fit into the German’s meticulous, high-pressing philosophy was repeatedly discussed.

However, the former RB Leipzig manager’s decision to partner the former Real Madrid hitman alongside Marcus Rashford, looks to have quelled those question marks.

Rashford triggers the United press from the frontline, but he also stretches and creates space for Ronaldo to exploit, with his diagonal runs between the central defender and the full-back.

While the 24-year-old may be the instigator, Ronaldo is certainly not a passenger on the Gegenpress train, as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is always lurking alongside Rashford to pick up any scraps from the Norwich defence.

While Rashford’s final product lacked precision, particularly in the first-half, there is an evident understanding and chemistry between the Englishman and Ronaldo.

There are still things which need to be fine-tuned between Ronaldo and Rashford, however, the positive signs and potential is all there to see.

What Rangnick got wrong?

Attacking full-backs fails to pay off

Since Solskjaer’s sacking, Alex Telles and Diogo Dalot have managed to displace Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw in the United starting eleven.

Their excellent attacking attributes fit perfectly into Rangnick’s philosophy, which seeks to win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible.

However, their enthusiasm to attack was targeted by the Canaries, who looked to exploit the space vacated by their marauding runs up the pitch.

This often resulted in Bruno Fernandes and Sancho retreating into the full-back positions to try and fill the gaps.

Rangnick needs to ensure Dalot and Telles are able to maintain a balance between their attacking and defensive exploits, otherwise the Red Devils could find themselves leaking goals.

United's ultra aggression

If anything could be said about United’s opening games under Rangnick’s stewardship, it is that their intensity seems to have quadrupled since his arrival.

They are fast, aggressive, and surprisingly cohesive considering the former RB Leipzig manager has not been at Old Trafford for long.

However, United’s aggressive approach does not come without risk, as Norwich constantly found a path to goal beyond the United press.

While their press is certainly intimidating, it can be navigated by quick thinking and composed midfielders such as Billy Gilmour, who regularly ousted the press in the centre of the pitch.

The Chelsea loanee's instinctive lofted passes, not only bypassed United's press, but it also pipped Maguire and Lindelof in a sprinting race against Pukki, which the Finnish striker often won to their discomfort.

  • Ralf Rangnick
  • Manchester United FC
  • Norwich City FC
  • Premier League

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