Although the German’s plan to overhaul Old Trafford wasn’t going to happen overnight we have no evidence that he intends to.
United has been in this same situation before, but Ronny is not.
Manchester United’s current position
Luke Shaw, left-back, admitted Monday night’s defeat at home to Wolves that there was a lack of unity among the players.
Sky Sports spoke to the England international, saying that she doesn’t believe they all stick together. If you look at our players, they have amazing quality. But sometimes, quality is not enough.
“We must bring more intensity and motivation. We know what we want in the dressing room, but we must give 100% on the pitch.”
“To win games like these, we must all give 100 percent. It’s hard and disappointing.
“We now have the time to focus ourselves, we have a long training week ahead of us and maybe the skipper will bring more ideas and what he needs on the pitch.”
Rangnick may be having difficulty communicating his message to the team, or players aren’t interested in his message.
Although crises are a normal part of United’s business, Rangnick wouldn’t have anticipated such difficulty in making major tactical and technical changes one month after the epidemic.
He is managing a superclub for the first time and must deal with the pressure. If the players ignore his instruction, the board should be held responsible for the confusion in his interim advisory position.
It’s not about having too much power or other problems off the field.
United’s tactical ineptness has been evident so far. Rangnick scored one goal in four of Rangnicks’ first five games as manager. Rangnick has not had many training sessions, which has made a big difference in Rangnick’s ability to introduce his complex and meticulous tactics. However, he has still made mistakes that have exposed his inexperience.
Let’s start by reviewing the basic goals of Rangnick.
He was a major innovator of transitional and hard pressing football in Teutonic style. Like all founders, he was a bit dogmatic. His idea was to play hard pressing with a 4-2-2-2 formation. Once the ball was won, the four front players could penetrate the defense and use the disorganized formation of the opposition to gain access to the opposition’s defensive line.
United did not show this, but we were able to see very little. There was no pressing and the four front lines seemed disengaged from one another on counter-attacks.
Ronny took Ronnyk three years to communicate his ideas to the players. This was especially after Solskjaer’s three-year tenure, which has seen almost no tactical development with the United players.
Importantly, however, Ronnyk’s 4-2-2-2 formation is not designed to provide United with the coverage and possession advantage they need in the Premier League.
Similar tactics were used by Hasenhuttl at Southampton. It worked, and sometimes it did. He allowed his team to drop deeper for longer periods, allowed players to play nearby, and only under certain trigger conditions pressed hard.
United, on the other hand, was forced to increase their formation because the opposition would always drop deep and allow the stronger side to attack. The 4-2-2-2 became a problem with or without the ball.
Probleme that have arisen
For example, the loss to Wolves was the biggest problem Ronnyk faced in his first month as a leader. United struggled to create opportunities because they couldn’t organize their attacks through all lines.
Ronny might prefer to attack quickly and jab his opponents in their backs with sharp vertical passes during attacking or defensive transitions. But, like Tuchel who struggled a lot at Chelsea recently, more possession means that you need structured possession. You must carefully cut through the opposition’s defensive blockade.
This is not possible with the 4-2-2-2 formation. An opposition formation that is compact and narrow causes the inside forward to move out to the wings to find space, leaving Martial or McTominay, who are not the best vertical passers, with no options for passing through the middle.
United was transformed into a four-back O-formation and a midfield that was largely empty after McTominay and Matic dropped back for the ball.
It creates an “O” shape when United plays a 4-2-2-2 attack from the back and plays a 4-2-2-2 form.
United will therefore play the ball to the wing in an attempt to find the striker using a diagonal pass. However, this rarely happens.
This tactic can be understood best by understanding that the 4-2-2-2 formation, actually a 4-2-4-2 or 4-2-4 formation, creates squares on a pitch instead of the triangles we would expect from a flexible control configuration.
If the team plays mostly on the counter-attack, this is not a problem. However, if you are forced to have a lot of possession, it is a bad tactic.
Bruno Fernandes was either dropped or placed in a new position, United’s performance became worse. The four strikers directly dispossessed of the ball tried to interact with each other without any support.
It was also not helpful that the United forwards were unable to pass the ball to the opposition, despite being able to do so repeatedly.
They were likely confused and tried to help McTominay and Matic, but the manager prefers that they come forward and get direct shots.
The lack of pressing meant that things were just as bad without the ball. The opposition could easily counter-attack by using the squares made by the 4-2-2-2 formation. There was no line to line pressing, nor coordinated pressing with the high places.
Wolves’ inside forward decided to throw out diagonally from outside to within on Monday to get through these large gaps.
Semedo was able to easily break through the defensive line in the 4-2-2-2 formation. United, however, fell back further in their half. This created a problem for the team.
The 3-4-2-1 formation of Wolves meant that Ruben Neves and Moutinho had Martial and McTominay locked down, while Greenwood & Sancho were chasing Wolf’s wing-backs (or trying to), and inside forwards Bodens & Trincorn were free for running.
Most problems can be solved with time and intensive training sessions. This includes teaching United players how they stand, run, and press to avoid being attacked.
Roenick would still need to alter his formation and adjust the pattern of possession dominance. Ronnik was left with little time.
It is evident that United’s players are too influential and feel that Longnecker’s vulnerability gives them more power. If performances don’t improve, Longnecker’s advisory role may be limited to making occasional calls to the team to check-in.
A vicious circle
Things could get worse before things get better.
Fans should take note of back-to-back games against Aston Villa. Gerrard’s Christmas tree formation gave United similar problems with inside forwards. If Matty Cash can move as freely as Semedo, they will be better able to make use of the attacking space.
There is no guarantee that things will improve without a change of formation or a simplified tactical system.
Ronnik displayed courage and flexibility in the second period against Wolves. He switched to a 3-4-6-2-1 and placed Fernandez in his best position. Cairo was instructed to make more runs with the last defender.
The improvement in performance that was triggered by these adjustments only lasted five minutes, which is frustrating.
Rangnick seemed like a good choice when he was made United boss.
Perhaps we underestimated the difficulty of managing a supper club, or how difficult it was to communicate tactical ideas to players during the middle of the season, when the epidemic was ravaging the team, or how poor the club was at the time he arrived.