Rangnick making Ronaldo mistake at Man Utd, says Keown

Will Ford
Man Utd interim boss Rangnick

Ralf Rangnick is not setting Manchester United up to get the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo, according to Martin Keown.

Rangnick lost his first game as United manager on Monday as Wolves outplayed them to win 1-0 at Old Trafford.

The German manager’s tactics were questioned after the game and his 4-2-2-2 system has come under scrutiny in the aftermath.

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Ronaldo was paired with Edinson Cavani in attack for the Red Devils, but both were ineffective as United struggled to create anything for them.

And Keown believes Rangnick needs to change his formation to get more from Ronaldo in particular.

Writing for the Daily Mail, Keown said: ”Rangnick will be wondering if it is feasible to continue using Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani as twin strikers.

“It feels as if he has been trying to accommodate both, but there aren’t many coaches who play with two upfront now. That’s a rarity in the modern game and this pair have a combined age of 70.

“On either side of Ronaldo and Cavani, Rangnick has been using two young and exciting withdrawn wingers but they haven’t been effective enough with or without the ball. Sancho needs to be more direct, and so does Mason Greenwood.”

He continued: “I prefer a front three. Ronaldo could act as the single striker for United — he made good runs against Wolves but was ignored by a midfield who rarely looked for the guy who has scored more than 800 goals in his career.

“Regardless of the formation, the players’ decision-making needs to improve, and so must Rangnick’s if United are to grab a Champions League spot.”

Keown also claimed Rangnick should have made changes before half-time against Wolves, as it was clear his system wasn’t working early on.

“Rangnick did change system at half-time and matched up to the visitors, moving to a back three of his own with Phil Jones, Raphael Varane and Shaw. Aaron Wan-Bissaka moved to right wing-back, Sancho went to left wing-back and, significantly, Mason Greenwood played off the front two.

“It gave United much more of a foothold in the game as they managed 76 per cent possession in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

“But Rangnick, with his football knowledge, should have been making changes much earlier than at half-time.

“Their first-half system failure had a massive impact on United’s players’ performance and confidence. It affected them for the rest of that match and they ended up losing.”