It was clear for all to see that Manchester United’s performance against Wolves was not good enough and improvement was needed against Aston Villa last night.

Ralf Rangnick had a week to work with his squad to do exactly that and a report by the Athletic has outlined the alterations the German made in his approach to the game.

Against Wolves, Rangnick apparently outlined more complex pressing triggers for his players. It is fair to say it didn’t work, especially in the first half as Bruno Lage’s side popped the ball around.

After the game, Lage was even able to outline quickly and simply how his men could outmanoeuvre United by flooding the centre of the pitch before using the width of the wing-backs.

Manchester United v Aston Villa: The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Against Villa, Rangnick’s pressing instructions were apparently simpler and even though the team performance over 90 minutes still left plenty to be desired, there were times when United turned the ball over by getting pressure on the ball.

United were also better in possession in the first half than they have been at any point in Rangnick’s reign.

 

It should be noted that isn’t especially high praise and that bright start faded after the break, but the report also says that Rangnick worked more on what he wanted from his players in possession, which has apparently been an issue for some players under the German.

Chris Armas and Rangnick spent plenty of time going over the plan so everyone knew it and in the end United did get the job done.

FBL-ENG-FA CUP-MAN UTD-ASTON VILLA
(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Making sure everyone knows their jobs and getting pressure on the ball are fairly basic things, but United did not seem to have them mastered against Wolves.

Perhaps the scale of the job facing Rangnick has been made plain to him in the games he has overseen so far, because United have not played well for a full game under his guidance yet.

It seems he went back to basics for this game, which brought and initial improvement before Villa wrestled control of the game as it wore on.

He will hope to have increased options for the Premier League trip to Villa Park to face the same opponents on Saturday, and we will wait and see whether he opts for a more complex set of instructions for that game or stick with what got the result last night.

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