‘Ronaldo’s work off the ball, chapeau’ – Man Utd star’s pressing impresses Rangnick as new manager starts with a win

The new interim manager wants his team to press their opponents high up the field and was impressed by the Portugal star’s work up front

Ralf Rangnick has praised Cristiano Ronaldo for his work off the ball as the German coach’s reign at Manchester United started with a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace.

A goal from Fred in the second half of the clash at Old Trafford was enough to see the Red Devils secure the three points in the first match under the new interim boss.

Rangnick was pleased with the way they played, and highlighted Ronaldo’s effort as United got their first taste of the new pressing system the manager is looking to implement.

What has been said?

“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,” he told BBC Match of the Day.

“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.”

What do Man Utd players think of Rangnick’s style?

Much has been made of the playing style the former RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim coach is expected to introduce at Old Trafford, with the team expected to press teams high up the pitch.

United star Bruno Fernandes was delighted with the start they had against Palace as they closed their opponents down and played at a high tempo.

“It depends on the game,” he told Premier League Productions.

“Sometimes you have to press a little bit more, sometimes you have to press less and everyone knows that it’s one of the things that the manager wants from us. More pressure, to be more aggressive. We tried to do it [today].

“I think the first 25 minutes from us was unbelievable, great tempo and we don’t give any space to them. We recovered a lot of balls high up the pitch. We could have scored many times in the first half I think, at least three times we could do a little more.

“But we got the three points and that’s the most important thing.”

High-press and fluid formations: Rangnick’s Man Utd revolution off to the perfect start

Fred’s long-range winning goal against Crystal Palace capped off a hugely encouraging first outing for the Red Devils under their new interim boss

Ralf Rangnick went into his first Manchester United game with two aims: to win, and to oversee a controlled display from his new team.

On Sunday, he succeeded on both counts.

The 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace did not mark a blistering start to the new regime at Old Trafford, but this was a performance to bring hope and promise that Rangnick, with a bit more practice, could bring success back to United.

Much like the end result is unlikely to cause major headlines once the dust settles, Rangnick arrived in the dugout for the first time to little fanfare.

He walked out merged in with the rest of the coaching staff, and stadium announcer Alan Keegan made no special declaration that a new manager was in town.

But even those who may have had their heads in the sand for the last three weeks and were not aware that United had made a new coaching appointment would have realised from the off that this was a different side to the one that has struggled through the early months of the season.

He may have picked the same line-up that had beaten Arsenal on Thursday – which given he only had one training session with his new players was hardly a surprise – but the team’s style of play was already markedly different.

Right from kick-off United pressed with purpose. It is not that they had not pressed in the past, but this time there seemed to at least be a structure to it.

Gone were individuals aimlessly hounding opposition players hoping for the best as they did so many times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Here they pressed as a pack, and it almost bore fruit after just three minutes, as Alex Telles saw a shot pushed out for a corner after the ball had been won back deep in Palace territory.

A switch of formation to Rangnick’s favoured 4-2-2-2 resulted in the team being more direct in their attacking play, too. With half-an-hour gone, Marcus Rashford had created three chances, Cristiano Ronaldo had attempted five shots and Jadon Sancho looked lively as he switched positions with Bruno Fernandes behind the front two.

In total, United managed 12 efforts on goal during the first half, with all that was missing was that final clinical pass or shot.

Rangnick, who spent the majority of the match in the technical area, seemed encouraged by what he was seeing, as he applauded each attempt on Vicente Guaita’s goal. Their pressing was clearly paying off, as across the duration of the match they won possession 12 times in Palace’s defensive third. Their previous best in a league match this season was seven times.

“It has been an average season so far, there is no avoiding that, but the club has players who are much better than the position we currently occupy, and it is my job to improve those players and that position,” Rangnick wrote in his first programme notes. “The first step in doing that is a shift in how the collective approaches games.

“If you want to win a football match, you have to control it, so the aim right now is to help the team control games more. That means being more proactive with and without the ball.”

That proactivity was clear, though the energy levels required to keep that up over the course of 90 minutes is something United’s players will need to reach going forward as they began to flag after just 20 minutes of the first half.

That said, they still recorded season highs for first-half passes into the final third (48), first-half touches in the opposition box (26) and first-half passes into the opposition box (26), among other metrics.

“I didn’t expect us to play on that level after only one-and-a-half training days with the players,” Rangnick told Sky Sports post-match. “The first half-hour was amazing. It was high-intensity, high-speed, high-tempo.

“The way we played against the ball, the whole game was in their (Palace’s half). I was positively surprised.”

Rangnick did his best to maintain his team’s intensity after the break, and could be seen wildly gesturing with his arms on the touchline as he looked for a solution to break down Patrick Vieira’s visitors.

The ex-RB Leipzig boss introduced Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga from the bench in a bid to spark his attack back into life, but in the end it was Fred who provided the moment of magic that United required.

The Brazil international’s curling shot from 20 yards out earned a celebratory punch of the air from his new manager as the home faithful were sent into raptures by the unlikeliest of goalscoring heroes.

Despite the win, this was not a perfect 90 minutes from United. There was, though, clear progress, and having only met his players for the first time 48 hours ago, that is as much as Rangnick could have asked for.

The control he demanded in his programme notes was certainly there as David de Gea was rarely tested on his way to securing United’s first clean sheet at Old Trafford since April, and with consecutive league wins for the first time since September, the fight for a top-four finish is on ahead of what looks to be a forgiving run of fixtures.

The Rangnick revolution has begun, and the signs are encouraging for all those related to Manchester United.

‘Shut up!’ – Juventus boss Allegri and Morata in heated touchline row

The Spanish striker was fuming after his coach removed him in the second half against Genoa

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri and striker Alvaro Morata were involved in a heated touchline exchange during Sunday’s match against Genoa.

With Juve up 1-0 in the 73rd minute, Allegri opted to remove Morata from the game and put Moise Kean on in his place.

Allegri’s decision did not sit well with Morata, with the pair shouting at one another on the touchline before Morata found a seat on the bench.

What happened?

Morata was in a sour mood for most of the match and in the 72nd minute, the striker was booked for dissent after an argument with Genoa’s Davide Biraschi.

That prompted Allegri to bring the Spanish forward off off in favour of Kean. As Morata walked past Allegri, his manager pushed him on the shoulder and shouted at him.

Pitchside microphones caught Allegri saying: “You gave away a foul, you have to shut up!”

The striker responded angrily: “What have I done?!”

Juventus would go on to win the match 2-0 after Paulo Dybala’s late goal sealed the points. Juan Cuadrado had opened the scoring with a goal directly from a corner kick.

What was said?

Asked by DAZN about the incident after the game, Allegri said: “He was booked, he was continuing to argue and so I preferred to take him off.

“It’s disappointing, as Alvaro had played well and so did the whole team.”

Rangnick explains how Ronaldo fits into his Man Utd plans and why he turned down Chelsea, Haaland transfer bonus talk & more

The Red Devils’ new interim manager has been discussing the Portuguese star’s role in his team

Ralf Rangnick has officially taken charge at Manchester United, with the interim boss at Old Trafford revealing how Cristiano Ronaldo figures in his plans and how foundations for long-term success will be put in place.

The German has been cleared to inherit the reins from caretaker coach Michael Carrick, who is walking away completely after three games at the helm, with a visa finally granted.

There is much for Rangnick to do in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal, particularly how Ronaldo will fit into his plans.

What has been said?

Ronaldo was dropped to the bench by Carrick for the trip to Chelsea, but returned to the United starting XI with a bang as he passed the 800 goal mark for his career in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Arsenal.

Rangnick was in attendance for that game and said at his introductory press conference: ”You always have to adapt your style or your idea of football to the players you have available, not vice-versa.

“Having seen Cristiano yesterday in the second half at the age of 36, an amazing top professional. At his age, I’ve never seen a player who is still that physically fit. He’s still a player who can easily make the difference.

“So, yes, it’s about how we can develop the whole team not only Cristiano. We play in the most competitive league in the world so we need all the players on board.

“What I saw from Cristiano yesterday, he is more than willing to do that, to put his input into the team. His team-mates will have to do the same.”

Why turned down Chelsea?

Ralf Rangnick has confirmed that Chelsea offered him the chance to take over as interim manager last season, before they settled on Thomas Tuchel as Frank Lampard’s permanent replacement.

Rangnick has since been snapped up by Manchester United on a temporary basis, taking over until the end of the season as head coach before he moves into an advisory role for a further two years.

After red tape delayed his appearance on the touchline – the German was forced to watch United’s victory over Arsenal on Thursday from the stands – he will finally be in the dugout for his new side’s meeting with Crystal Palace.

Speaking before that game, Rangnick explained why he turned down a Premier League move with Chelsea before being tempted to England by the Red Devils’ offer.

“When Chelsea contacted me last year, they only spoke about the option to become interim manager for four months, without any prospective to work in the long term together,” he said.

“Now here we are talking about six-and-a-half months, so we only have one third of the games played in the Premier League.

“We have also agreed on a two-year advisory role after those six-and-a-half months. In the end, to be honest, if a club like Manchester United contacts you for such a role you cannot possibly turn it down.”

Rangnick arrives at Old Trafford with United lagging behind his former suitors. The Red Devils currently sit in seventh, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.

Will additions be made?

Rangnick has arrived in England with another transfer window fast approaching, but claims to have no recruitment plans in place yet.

He said when asked about possible additions in January: “We haven’t spoken about new players.

“Now is the time to get to know the current squad in detail, the squad is definitely not too small. There are enough players.

“Maybe after Christmas, there will be a time to talk about possible transfers in the winter. In my experience, winter is not the time for sustainable transfers. It will be difficult in the winter.”

There have been suggestions that United will look to use Rangnick’s presence as a bargaining chip to prise Erling Haaland away from Borussia Dortmund, with the 63-year-old having previously spent time working with the Norwegian striker as sporting director at Red Bull Salzburg.

Bonuses are said to be up for grabs if such a deal can be put in place, but Rangnick has laughed off those reports.

He said: “£10 million [$13m] for Haaland, £10m for [Kylian] Mbappe, £10m for [Robert] Lewandowski and £10m for [Joshua] Kimmich.

“This is nonsense. There is no such clause in my contract. There is little point in speculating over new players. I know what kind of player he is, but in the meantime, the whole world has realised how good the player is.

“The offensive players we have here, we have so many top players in the offensive department that we don’t need to speak about any other player.”

How long will Rangnick stay?

For now, Rangnick is eager to keep focus on the present as he has only signed up to six months in the dugout before shifting into an advisory role.

He said of his position: “The people who I’ve spoken with, they have been very clear that it is a six-month role. We have never spoken about what will happen in the summer.

“If they will speak about me with that, we will see. if they ask me about my opinion, I might make the same recommendation that I did at RB Leipzig twice, that it might be better to work with me for one year.

“It’s not unusual that after a long, successful spell, the club needs to find a new pathway. The club has had no continuity in signing new players and sticking to the DNA of the club.

“In the future, the board members and my self have the same opinion. It’s important not to have many changes in management.”

Further reading

‘Factos 👀👍’ – Cristiano Ronaldo Comments On A Post Saying Messi Robbed The Ballon d’Or

Carrick ends 15-year Man Utd stay as interim boss announced departure following Arsenal victory

Will Chelsea still be at the top of the EPL table by January 2022? 

Watch: Ronaldo scores 800th career goal as Man Utd defeat Arsenal

The forward has continued to pour in goals in important situations for the Red Devil as he becomes the first professional footballer to reach 800 goals milestone

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 800th career goal in all competitions on Thursday against Arsenal to briefly give his side a 2-1 lead before converting the match-winning penalty for No.801 after the Gunners had equalised.

The forward is recognised as the all-time top men’s goalscorer, and he has continued to reach significant milestones upon his return to the Red Devils.

Ronaldo has made a habit of netting in important moments this year, as he’s scored at least once in each of his five Champions League appearances, including two late winners, and scored six times in the Premier League.

Watch: Ronaldo scores 800th career goal

Ronaldo found the back of the net by sliding in a low pass from Marcus Rashford for his 800th goal.

What has been said?

“Incredible,” midfielder Bruno Fernandes told Amazon of Ronaldo. “We all know he is improving game by game, year by year.

“He wants to keep being the best and that’s what he did. He knows how to self-motivate.”

Ronaldo’s goalscoring by team

Ronaldo has scored the most goals at Real Madrid with 450.

He’s now bagged 130 at Manchester United, as well as 115 with the Portugal national team, 101 with Juventus and five with Sporting CP.

Further reading

‘Factos’ – Cristiano Ronaldo Comments On A Post Saying Messi Robbed The Ballon d’Or

Carrick ends 15-year Man Utd stay as interim boss announced departure following Arsenal victory

Will Chelsea still be at the top of the EPL table by January 2022? 

Carrick ends 15-year Man Utd stay as interim boss announced departure following Arsenal victory

The coach draws the curtain on a decade and a half at Old Trafford, finishing on a high with victory over the Gunners

Thursday’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Arsenal will be the last act of Michael Carrick’s Manchester United career, as the interim boss announced he was stepping down from his coaching position at Old Trafford.

Carrick took over on a temporary basis following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, and led United to two wins and a draw in his three matches in charge.

But he will not stay on once Ralf Rangnick takes up the manager’s job until the end of the current season.

What was said?

“Michael Carrick has decided to step down as First Team coach and leave the club following the conclusion of his spell as caretaker Manager,” United revealed in a statement released shortly after the club beat Arsenal on Thursday.

John Murtough, Football Director, explained: “Michael leaves with the sincerest thanks and best wishes of everyone at Manchester United after 15 years of exceptional service to the club as a player and as a coach. While we are sad to see him go, we respect and understand Michael’s decision.”

Carrick added: “My time at this great Club will always rank as the best years of my career. When I first signed over 15 years ago, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined winning so many trophies and I will certainly never forget the fantastic memories both as a player and as a member of the coaching team.

“However, after a lot of thought and deliberation, I have decided that now is the right time for me to leave the club. I want to place on record my thanks to all of the players and a special mention goes to the backroom staff, working long hours with such a great group of people has been a real pleasure and I have made some long-lasting friendships.

“I am, and will always be, a Manchester United fan and will come to as many matches as possible. I would like to wish Ralf, the staff, the players and the fans all the best for the future and I look forward to being in the stands and supporting the boys as a fan.”

The bigger picture

Carrick departs Old Trafford after 15 years at the club as a player and coach.

He originally signed in 2006 from Tottenham and stayed at United for the rest of his career before taking up a backroom job upon retirement in 2018.

The former England midfielder ends his brief tenure on the bench having helped steady the ship following Solskjaer’s exit, while he also clinched Champions League knock-out qualification with victory over Villarreal.

“It’s not been an easy decision to make but I feel it’s the right one. I was going to take time off after I finished playing and it never happened. It feels like the right time to step away and what a way to finish,” he told Amazon following the Arsenal clash.

“It’s 100 percent my decision. Over the last week I was conscious I respected the club and the manager coming in. I thought it was the right thing to do for the club and for Ralf [Rangnick] and I’m quite happy with that.

“We were in a situation where there was a responsibility to see these games through. The loyalty to Ole is a little bit of a factor but there were a lot of things that came into my decision.

“I’ve had great times, great memories and I’m proud of the players over the past three games. I just told [the players] and they were a bit shocked and surprised, a bit emotional in the changing room. I held it together just about. It’s not been easy to keep it away from people but I had a job to do.”

As of Thursday the Reds sit eighth in the Premier League, 14 points behind leaders Chelsea and five points away from the final Champions League spot.

‘Factos’ – Cristiano Ronaldo Comments On A Post Saying Messi Robbed The Ballon d’Or

On Monday, footballer Lionel Messi was awarded his seventh Ballon d’Or in Paris.

The Paris Saint-Germain star was given the prestigious French football award at the 65th annual ceremony, but his rival Ronaldo seemingly thinks that he deserved it more.

When a fan account ranted about how Ronaldo was robbed of the Ballon d’Or this week, the footballer himself showed his agreement in the comments.

FAN CLAIMS RONALDO DESERVED BALLON D’OR

A popular Instagram Ronaldo fan account called @cr7.o_lendario, who has 325,000 followers, took to Instagram to post their reaction to Messi winning the Ballon d’Or.

First, they listed Ronaldo’s many achievements this year before saying: “Regardless of his age, [Ronaldo] is a guy who continues to perform miracles and impresses the world most often.”

He then went on to say that Ronaldo was robbed and deserved the Ballon D’Or over Messi, writing:

“Cristiano was way better, and the prize goes to who? For Messi, who only won Copa do Ei for Barcelona, hasn’t scored a goal against Real Madrid since Cristiano left and missed in the big games of the season.”

The Instagram user continued to list Messi’s lack of achievements before saying:

“For Ronaldo to win this award he has to be 300% unquestionable. It’s not use scoring the most beautiful goal of the the year, being champion of everything for a club, top scorer of everything and scoring a hat-trick in the world cup.”

“With Messi, it’s the opposite. He can have a low season, way down, they’ll always find a way to favour him and give him the award. Steal. Dirt. Shame. It’s just unfortunate,” he concluded before adding:

“Those who are intelligent enough know who deserves the truth. Receiving awards without deserving it, is false happiness, without pride. Regardless of those awards, C27 will always be the best in history.”

RONALDO COMMENTS ‘FACTOS’

Ronaldo himself read the fan’s Instagram post and decided to show his support in the comments.

He commented the word “Factos” alongside a thumbs up and eyes emoji, which means “facts” in Spanish and Portuguese.

The Manchester United footballer was seemingly saying that he agrees that he deserved the Ballon d’Or, and the comment was a sly dig at his rival Messi.

RONALDO SAYS WINNING BALLON D’OR AWARDS ISN’T HIS AMBITION

Despite commenting “Factos” and claiming he deserved the Ballon d’Or awards, Ronaldo recently revealed that winning more Ballon d’Ors isn’t his only ambition.

On Friday, days before the Ballon d’Or ceremony, French editor Pascal Ferre told the New York Times: “Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi – and I know that because he has told me.”

Ronaldo then slammed his claims on Instagram, writing: “Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for.”

“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or,” he continued.

“The biggest ambition of my career is to win national and international titles for the clubs I represent and for the national team in my country. The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football.”

Will Chelsea still be at the top of the EPL table by January 2022? 

December is usually a jolly month with folks excited for Christmas and an official countdown to the new year. The Chelsea camp might not be so jolly because this December is crucial for their title chances. 

Photo Credit: Twitter/ Chelsea FC

Tuchel’s men sit at the top of the table after 14 games with 33 points. Manchester City is second with 32 points, while Liverpool is third with 31 points. The title race is already looking intense and it would take a lot for Chelsea to remain top. 

EPL Table after 14 games

Remember that the Blues are still in contention for the League cup and they have one more Champions League game for the year.

Chelsea would be facing 8 opponents for the remainder of the year, which means they would average 2 games every week. This would make the manager, Thomas Tuchel, rotate the team to avoid injuries. From the game against Watford, we can see that it might be difficult for Chelsea to always perform their best when rotating players and resting their best men. 

Another key factor is the recent injuries that have hit the team. N’golo Kante, Ben Chilwell, and Kovacic are currently out injured. While Timo Werner and Lukaku are still trying to get integrated into the team after being injured as well. It would be difficult for Chelsea to be at their best when they keep rotating team members. 

Photo Credit: Instagram/Chelsea FC

A head coach who likes to use data to make informed decisions, Tuchel will no doubt lean on his coaching staff, medical department, and analysts to make sure he keeps all of his available players at or near peak condition throughout the busy period.

Manchester City and Liverpool are also out for blood. Salah is having an outstanding season, he has scored 19 goals in all competitions and looks likely to finish the year on a high. Pep’s Manchester City are doing their best to make it a back-to-back title win. 

Below are all the fixtures for Chelsea this December:

Chelsea’s fixture for December

Below are all the fixtures for Manchester City this December:

Man City’s fixture for December

Below are all the fixtures for Liverpool this December:

Liverpool’s fixture for December

Chelsea would need to get 18 points out of the next 6 games to guarantee the top spot. Anything short of that might see either of Manchester City or Liverpool leap-frog to the top.

It is really a close call, but let us know what you think about this – will Chelsea still be at the top of the EPL table by January?

Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Watford v Chelsea and Southampton v Leicester delayed after fan medical emergencies

A supporter had to be given emergency treatment at Vicarage Road, with another fan later stricken at St. Mary’s

A fan is now stable and being treated in hospital after suffering cardiac arrest during Chelsea’s game at Watford on Wednesday, with the game delayed while they were treated in the stands at Vicarage Road.

Later on the same evening, Leicester’s match at Southampton was also delayed due to a medical emergency in the stands at half-time.

After 13 minutes at Vicarage Road, Chelsea and Watford’s players were directed to their dressing rooms due to a medical emergency in the crowd. The game was delayed for around 30 minutes before it resumed following the news that the fan had been taken to hospital.

What happened?

During a stoppage in play, several players and fans alerted the referee and medical officials of a developing incident in the stands.

A fan had suffered cardiac arrest in the upper tier of the Graham Taylor Stand, with medical officials rushing to attend.

After a delay, the fan was taken off on a stretcher, with Watford saying on Twitter that the supporter had been stabilised.

“The players have returned to the field in preparation of play resuming,” the club said.

“Our thoughts are with the fan – who had a cardiac arrest but has now been stabilised – and all those affected. Thank you to the medical staff, players and fans for their quick response.”

Another medical emergency
Later on the same day, Leicester’s match against Southampton at St. Mary’s was also delayed due to a medical emergency in the stands.

This time, the incident took place at half-time with the second-half kick-off delayed.

“There will be a delay to kick-off for the second half due to a medical emergency in the stands,” read a tweet from Leicester City.

The match was delayed for around 15 minutes before it resumed.

A similar incident at St. James’ in October

The incident at Vicarage Road was reminiscent of another emergency with a fan that took place in October’s contest between Newcastle and Tottenham.

The play was temporarily stopped during the first half at St. James’ Park as a fan was given emergency treatment in the stands.

In that instance, the fan was stabilised and taken to hospital, with the game restarted after a delay of 20 minutes.

‘We stole three points’ – Chelsea boss Tuchel angry after ‘lucky win’ over Watford

The Blues escaped Vicarage Road with a 2-1 victory, but their manager was not happy after the game

Thomas Tuchel was far from pleased with his Chelsea side’s display despite their 2-1 win at Watford on Wednesday.

The Blues escaped Vicarage Road with all three points after Mason Mount’s first-half goal and Hakim Ziyech’s 72nd-minute winner, with the game delayed for 30 minutes in the first half after a fan suffered a cardiac arrest.

Tuchel said Chelsea were not adequately prepared for the game while calling the win “lucky” after they maintained their hold on first place in the Premier League.

What was said?

“That’s not us. We were absolutely not ready today for this match,” Tuchel told Amazon after the game.

“I missed maybe to find the right approach to make my team ready. We had the break due to very sad circumstances – hopefully the person is better.

“Even this break after the first 11 minutes did not change our approach. We did not cope with the pressure, with the first ball, second ball.

“We had a lot of changes but too many faults. It did not get better. The only thing we could do was hang in there and focus on the easy things. It was a lucky win.”

Concern over Chalobah injury

Tuchel also expressed his concern over Trevoh Chalobah, who was withdrawn after an hour with an injury.

“The most worried I am is about the injury for Trevoh Chalobah,” he said. “The doctor was on the pitch 20 times today it felt like. It’s a big loss from Trev. I’m a bit worried.”