Ralf Rangnick's appointment and four more Manchester United moves which didn't fit

Manchester United have made a catalogue of errors since Sir Alex Ferguson retired nine years ago and Ralf Rangnick’s appointment is the latest to be added to an ever-growing list.

United in Focus takes a look at five Manchester United moves which didn’t fit during the post-Fergie era.

Manchester United moves which didn’t fit

Ralf Rangnick appointment

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Manchester United had no plans in place to sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the club’s alarming nosedive in form which was compounded by a 4-1 defeat at Watford in November, left the hierarchy with no choice but to part ways with the Norwegian.

The alarm bells had been ringing for Solskjaer given the embarrassing nature of the home defeats to arch rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.


Instead of replacing the ‘baby-faced assassin’ during the November international break, United hoped that Solskjaer could turn a corner and get the team back on track.

But that didn’t materialise and after opting against hiring Antonio Conte, United had Solskjaer’s assistant Michael Carrick in charge for a three-game caretaker spell before appointing Rangnick.

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The German, who specialises in building clubs behind the scenes instead of being a manager, was appointed as the Red Devils’ interim boss until the end of the season.

The 63-year-old was hired with the caveat that he would move upstairs and take up a consultancy role for two years at the club once his time in the dugout came to an end.

But following Rangnick’s appointment as Austria’s manager, the club have confirmed that he won’t be fulfilling his advisory role.

There looked to be a response to Rangnick’s methods from the players in his first game in charge against Crystal Palace in December.

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But it didn’t take long for problems to rear its head and Manchester United finished the season with our worst points return in Premier League history and a goal difference of zero.

Rangnick’s 29-game in charge of United brought 11 wins, nine draws and nine losses, and he averaged 1.45 points per game during his short tenure.

Solskjaer’s record this season from the 17 games he managed was seven wins, three draws and seven losses, and he averaged 1.41 points per game.

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United’s season didn’t get any better under Rangnick, and despite the German not being afraid to call out the club’s shortcomings in press conferences and post-match interviews, his ill-fated time at the club has come to an abrupt end.

New manager Erik ten Hag was asked about Rangnick’s consultancy role in his press conference and offered a curt response, simply stating: “That is on the club.”

It was hoped that Rangnick’s best work for the club would come behind the scenes with him working alongside Ten Hag and advising the club on who are the best young talents to target across Europe.

But with that no longer coming to fruition, it makes Rangnick’s time in Manchester look that much more bizarre and outright pointless.

Signing Juan Mata to play right-wing

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Would Manchester City have played David Silva on the wing? No. Mata’s compatriot was given the freedom to roam in the Citizens side and he was very much the conductor to their orchestra.

Mata was signed for £37.1m from Chelsea in January 2014 and he proved to be David Moyes’ second and final Manchester United signing.

But like many of United’s signings there didn’t look to be any thought of where Mata could fit in and it looked yet another statement signing.

Mata arrived at the Theatre of Dreams at a time that Shinji Kagawa, another attacking midfielder had struggled to establish himself in the side.

Photo by Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

The World Cup and European Championship winner was at his best for Chelsea when he was playing in-behind the striker and at the heart of the Blues’ creativity.

From the 68 games Mata played as a number 10 for the Stamford Bridge side, he scored 16 goals and provided 38 assists.

Mata, who is set to leave Manchester United as a free agent this summer, played 285 times for the Reds and half of those appearances came with him playing on the right-hand side.

The 34-year-old scored 51 goals and laid on 47 assists during his time with the Reds, but it could have been so much more if the team was built around him, instead of finding a way to get him in the team.

Alexis Sanchez

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

It seemed that Manchester United were desperate to gazump Manchester City to the signing of the Chilean, and how that backfired for us.

Looking back at the piano video to announce his signing – it gets more and more cringey every single time.

Sanchez’s signing was an absolute disaster which made us even more of a laughing stock, and the footballing world were revelling in the fact we were paying a huge chunk of his ludicrous wages while he was out on loan at Inter Milan.

The former Arsenal man was yet another player who didn’t do the iconic number seven shirt justice and Sanchez finished his Manchester United career with five goals from 45 games.

Sanchez’s final appearance in a United shirt saw him hobble off injured at Huddersfield Town.

Donny van de Beek

Prior to the Dutchman’s £35m move to Old Trafford, the midfielder was one of the most-coveted players across Europe and he may have gone to Real Madrid if Los Blancos hadn’t felt the financial woes that Covid-19 brought.

But Manchester United took advantage and snapped up the former Ajax star and everything looked rosy after he came off the bench to score on his debut against Crystal Palace.

Ironically, after scoring his first goal for United on his first game under Solskjaer, his second goal came in the Norwegian’s final match at Vicarage Road when United’s number 34 halved the 2-0 deficit with a header, after coming on at half-time.

The 25-year-old has made 50 appearances for the Reds, but only four of them have been Premier League starts.

Out-of-favour under Solskjaer and Rangnick, Van de Beek will be hoping a reunion with Ten Hag proves to be the catalyst in him reigniting his stagnating career.

Bringing back Cristiano Ronaldo with no plan

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It looked like at one stage that the unthinkable was going to happen and Cristiano Ronaldo was Manchester City-bound after Pep Guardiola’s side failed to land Harry Kane.

But following the intervention of the likes of Sir Alex and Rio Ferdinand, the pendulum quickly swung to a Manchester United homecoming.

Solskjaer sent United fans into a frenzy and added fuel to the fire when he confirmed United had entered the race to bring the legendary Portuguese back home, in a press conference.

Then it was signed, sealed and confirmed – Viva Ronaldo was back.

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But after building a team that was centred around pacey young players, who were devastating on the counter-attack, United had to completely alter their approach to accommodate the return of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

United weren’t prepared for Ronaldo’s return and his signing was clearly a reaction to City’s interest – if he were a target for that summer transfer window then the deal would have been wrapped up earlier in the window.

Solskjaer hadn’t planned to have Ronaldo in his side, but can you really turn down having arguably the greatest player of all time in your side?

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The hysteria and buzz around Old Trafford upon Ronaldo’s homecoming against Newcastle United will never be forgotten.

But despite holding up his end of the bargain with 24 goals in all competitions, 14 more then United’s next top scorer – Bruno Fernandes, Ronaldo has been let down.

The 37-year-old will be hoping for a better season under new boss Ten Hag, and the Dutchman will likely be already planning on finding a system that brings the best out of FIFA’s all-time top scorer.

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.