Ralf Rangnick must find Bruno Fernandes solution to succeed at Manchester United – Mike Parrott
Manchester United somehow escaped Carrow Road with three points after a happy 1-0 win over Norwich City.
A match that, honestly, should have ended in a draw; both teams were equally good, which is a pretty depressing phrase thinking that Norwich is currently at the bottom of the Premier League.
The penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo scored was a very sweet statement to put it mildly. However, United managed to hold on after having relatively few chances to come away with three points and push them higher in the table.
The bulk of the criticism for United in the game fell on Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese midfielder has easily been United’s best player since joining in January 2020. However, his form under Ralf Rangnick leaves a lot to be desired.
Fernandes had a game to forget. Through sofa score, he completed only 67% of his passes, gave possession 27 times, did not complete a single cross of the five attempted, with only two of his seven long balls.
Now Fernandes isn’t known for his very efficient passing and ball retention anyway, but this game took the cake for Bruno who actually hit with a lot of his attempts.
Ralf Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 formation didn’t seem to be working right now for Fernandes, who seems to be adjusting to the new system very slowly. However, one of United’s biggest issues is that when Fernandes doesn’t shoot, like he was against Norwich, United don’t have a Plan B.
With Paul Pogba’s injury, let alone the Frenchman set to leave the club, United don’t have many options. United full-backs, who have become a focal point of creativity in modern football, are in decline within the club with the right wing completely devoid of form.
Unlike the teams Rangnick managed before, which United desperately need, the team do not have a striker capable of doing the so-called “dirty work”.
In the same way that Rangnick did well with Yussef Poulsen at RB Leipzig and famous with Roberto Firmino at Hoffenheim, he had forwards who would sacrifice themselves for the best of the team, creating opportunities for their partner attackers.
United’s best passer or playmaker would arguably have been Fred against Norwich if Bruno Fernandes had come off the pitch. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m a huge fan of Fred, but the Brazilian shouldn’t be the main playmaker for a team that aspires to the title.
United sorely need a striker who can relieve Fernandes. An attacker who can descend deeper and tie the game up with them. All the best teams in the world have them, like Firmino mentioned above at Liverpool, Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich and the false nine use conglomerate at Manchester City.
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Yes, Fernandes struggles with this system. Yet when the next creativity options are Fred or Jadon Sancho making their way through multiple players, it makes a lot more sense that Bruno is still going through this crisis.
United have shown more courage in these games since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and the defensive record under Rangnick is already much better. However, the new system might not suit Manchester United’s current attacking momentum.
Hopefully that can be rectified by the return of Edinson Cavani or in the next January transfer window. Otherwise this season could be a very long struggle for Rangnick and Manchester United.
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