Manchester United have now had the last two Premier League matches postponed. An outbreak of Covid cases led to Carrington being closed on Thursday, for the second time in a week.
Matches against Brentford and Brighton and Hove Albion will be rescheduled, with no dates currently proposed. The priority for United is trying to get to December 27th game away at Newcastle United.
So while disappointing to miss out on a couple of games this week, rest in the knowledge all 38 league games will be played eventually, and we will catch up. Here is a look at five positives for United to take from the double postponement.
Rangnick can devote time to coaching hires
From a coaching perspective, this is a time of transition. This was underlined by the club’s decision to let Kieran McKenna and Martyn Pert leave on Thursday to take up new positions at Ipswich Town.
Moving on more of Solskjaer’s old coaching team was overdue, but in the short-term, Rangnick is short-handed, havig also lost Michael Carrick.
While Chris Armas has joined United as a coach, along with psychologist Sasha Lense, McKenna’s departure creates a little bit of a knowledge gap in the short term, while also giving Rangnick and his team time for a complete overhaul.
Instead of this happening right before a Premier League game, the departures and change comes when United have a bit of time to spare.
Rangnick can use this time to look at whether he needs to bring in further coaches, and who. And it will be a lot easier to do, without a match this weekend taking up his time.
Work clearly needed to implement Rangnick’s system
After the promise displayed in United’s opening performance against Crystal Palace, the following game against Norwich was a let down, despite the win.
United clearly need more work to gel into Rangnick’s way of playing, and that was always going to be the case.
Even though the players are away from the training ground, there is a lot of educational work Rangnick can get across about his tactics, via video sessions, and explaining individual player tasks and movement.
United’s players can spend time studying the ‘nuts and bolt theory’ of Rangnick’s tactics, in time they would have had to devote to the ‘practice’ instead. All this preparation can make United better when they do get back on the pitch.
Rangnick can focus on player needs and transfer moves
Rather than going straight into a game this past Tuesday and then preparing for Saturday, United have additional time. This gives Rangnick a chance to have conversations with players he may not otherwise have prioritised.
These can be one to one chats with wantaway players like Dean Henderson, Jesse Lingard or Anthony Martial, or chats about contract extensions with those looking to recommit to United.
This extra time can also be used to look at potential player incomings, to offset any outgoings, and in areas of need like midfield.
Rangnick can spend time being hands-on with transfers, which he may not get when the fixtures start. There are six games scheduled between December 27 and the end of the transfer window – and that’s without the re-arranged fixtures, and a possible FA Cup replay if the third round tie is a draw. It could quickly get frenetic, and there may not be time to delve into transfer needs why he would like. Rangnick can use this time to lay some of the groundwork he needs.
Cavani and Varane get fitter
From a practical sense, the postponement allows Edinson Cavani and Raphael Varane to get fit again after their spells out with injury. Neither have featured since the Atalanta away game in early November.
Both players were pictured in training last week and had an outside chance to be involved against Brighton this weekend.
This extra time bolsters both players in their recovery and each of them could go straight into United’s starting line-up against Newcastle on the 27th.
Fresher for next game than Newcastle
In a general sense, United will be fresh, and that matters, considering Newcastle United are the next opponents, who played last night against Liverpool.
Newcastle are also due to play against Manchester City this coming Sunday, another potentially confidence sapping game to add to 4-0 defeats to Leicester and the 3-1 loss to Liverpool last night.
The sight of a completely fresh Manchester United side should be the last thing Newcastle want to see on the 27th, with the Red Devils having two games postponed and having time to rest up physically and mentally.
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