Ralf Rangnick is quickly realising the magnitude of the task he faces at Manchester United.
Although the results have vastly improved since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer departed, there are still plenty of issues to be addressed by United’s interim boss.
Rangnick tried to implement a 4-2-2-2 formation yet, aside from a narrow win in his first game against Crystal Palace, the system has never really threatened to take shape.
It’s never easy for a manager to come into a new job midway through the season especially with such demand for instant success, and Rangnick now knows all too well the pressure that comes with being United boss.
United’s upcoming fixtures look to be ones the club should be confident of winning. After a tough home clash with West Ham, Rangnick’s men face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, with league trips to Burnley and Leeds sandwiched in between an Old Trafford date with Southampton.
After that things really start to get tough, with the first leg of the last-16 Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid followed by clashes with Watford, Manchester City, Tottenham, the second leg against Atletico and then Liverpool.
While many fans may look at the games against the likes of Middlesbrough, Burnley, Southampton and Leeds as simple enough matches to be navigated before facing some of the biggest sides in Europe, they’re likely to be just as important.
We’ll truly discover in these outings whether or not the interim boss has made any significant progress during his time at Old Trafford.
If we begin to look settled against these teams then it’ll set us up brilliantly for the resumption of Champions League campaign. If we see more performances like we did at Norwich and against Wolves a few weeks ago, there surely is no hope.
The first leg against Diego Simeone’s Atletico will undoubtedly be United’s biggest game of the season so far. While the league campaign hasn’t ever looked like hitting the heights we’d hoped, a decent run into the latter stages of Europe’s premier competition could yet make this a season to remember.
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Anybody who has watched any of Atletico’s games since Simeone took charge will know this isn’t going to be an easy task for United, but it’s by no means an impossible one.
However, to head into the Champions League last-16 with the best chance of overcoming the La Liga outfit, United need to start laying the groundwork now and that starts with the five games set to be faced before heading to Atletico.
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