Ralf Rangnick explains Phil Jones substitution amid Keane criticism, says Anthony Elanga tactical switch worked
Ralf Rangnick said before Manchester United’s game with Chelsea that he could look to bring on the four youngsters on the bench.
So it was with some dismay that when Rangnick rang the changes late in the second half, on came Phil Jones and Juan Mata.
The changes were blasted by Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane, who said: “Mata comes on. You’ve got young players on the bench, bring them in. It felt like a jubilee tonight. Jones comes on. They won’t be here in a few weeks and the youngsters will be here, so test them at Old Trafford against good players.”
Rangnick said his decision was tactical, in particular the choice to bring on Jones, who replaced Matic in midfield.
Speaking to United’s club website, Rangnick explained: “I decided to bring on Phil Jones as they were causing us problems on their right side with Reece James and Mason Mount, so it was difficult for Alex Telles to get hold of that.”
Reece James had been a constant threat, hitting the post at 1-1, with United having a lucky escape.
Rangnick added that another tactical tweak with Anthony Elanga also allowed United to improve in the second half, before the Jones switch.
He said: “In the second half, to start with, we pushed back Anthony Elanga almost like a left wing-back and in the last 15 minutes played with a back five with three central defenders. That gave us more control of the game.”
It’s not the first time in recent weeks Elanga has been pushed back into this kind of role by Rangnick, having done so against Norwich.
The Swede’s versatility and ability to do this counts in his favour and is one of the reasons Rangnick likes him, although it does limit the 20-year-old’s attacking offering.
Rangnick did bring on Argentine youngster Alejandro Garnacho for his debut in injury time, although there was not enough time for the 17-year-old to touch the ball.