Ralf Rangnick’s first game in charge ended in victory, as Manchester United secured a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The German had opted to name the same starting XI as the one that beat Arsenal in midweek, although the hosts started much brighter than they did on Thursday night, showcasing early signs of the high press approach that is set to be a feature under the new boss.
In a half almost entirely dictated by United, Palace threatened on the break with Wilfried Zaha going close early on, while at the other end Bruno Fernandes saw an effort well saved by Vicente Guaita following an excellent Cristiano Ronaldo knockdown.
After a smattering of half-chances for the home side, arguably the best opening of the half fell to full-back Diogo Dalot, yet the Portugal international could only curl his effort over the bar after cutting in well onto his weaker foot.
Rangnick’s men were far less impressive after the break, however, as the resilient visitors gradually worked their way back into the game, with the home support growing ever more frustrated with every errant pass and failed attack.
The nerves were heightened even more as Jordan Ayew somehow failed to score with just under 15 minutes to play, the former Aston Villa forward firing his short wide with the goal at his mercy.
That missed chance ultimately proved costly as the Red Devils finally made the breakthrough just moments later through an unlikely source, the much improved Fred curling in on his weaker right foot from just outside the box.
Despite a nervy finish, the hosts hung on to for what was a deserved win make it back-to-back Premier League victories and a first under their new interim manager, while it is now three successive league defeats for Patrick Vieira’s side.
Speaking after his first game as United boss, Rangnick insisted he was ‘very happy’ with how his new side performed, admitting that they were ‘much better than expected’ after limited time to work on the training ground.
“I am very happy with the way the team performed, especially the first half hour, with the pressing, it was exceptional. The only thing missing was the 1-0 or 2-0,” Rangnick told BBC Sport.
An afternoon of firsts for Ralf Rangnick!
First game ✔️
First goal ✔️
First win ✔️#MUFC | #MUNCRY pic.twitter.com/WLxItQvSO6
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 5, 2021
“The way we defended, we had control of the whole game, the clean sheet was the most important part.
“These are the things we must improve. We need to keep clean sheets. With just the one training session, I was really impressed. We did much better than expected.
“We always tried to be on the front foot. We were never not apart from maybe the last five minutes. At all other times we were trying to keep them away from our goal.
“We wanted to play with two strikers, especially in the central position. By the way, Cristiano Ronaldo’s work off the ball, chapeau.”
[On Fred’s goal] “I had to ask my assistant coach if that was Fred’s right foot. I thought he could only shoot with his left. I’m happy for him.
“It’s always easier to build on things after you’re successful. We must produce further clean sheets and get better at creating chances for our attack. Overall I was very pleased with the way we played today.”
Man United take on Young Boys in the Champions League on Wednesday evening, before they travel to Carrow Road on Saturday.
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