It has been some strange days for Manchester United fans. After suffering the misery of postponements and not getting to see our team play, we then had to suffer the misery of watching our team play.
Monday’s 1-1 draw against Newcastle was absolutely awful. Ralf Rangnick’s team was so bad at night and they did not manage to create any real clear chances until Edinson Cavani saved the day with a typical sniper finish from close range.
It is clear that Rangnick has a lot of work to do with the United squad, and major improvements are needed if we are to have any real hope of securing a top-4 spot.
Despite coming away with four points from the last two games, the lack of creativity and constant individual mistakes is a real cause for concern.
Perhaps the most interesting statistic that came out of the Newcastle match was the number of times United lost the ball at St James’ Park.
Rangnick’s prosecutors admitted possession an astonishing 167 times, their worst performance in that regard this season.
There are, of course, reservations about this. For example, United, who more often give the ball away, can be attributed to the philosophy that Rangnick wants to implement in the club, moving the ball up the pitch as quickly as possible.
In 4-2-2-2 formation, you are much more likely to play the ball forward than sideways, because the two backs are often the only players on the court offering any real width.
However, this has not stopped United fans from scolding beyond their team’s passing statistics, and one man who has been the subject of more criticism than most is Bruno Fernandes.
There is no doubt that the Portuguese national team player has been United’s best player in 2021, yet there has been a clear drop from him this season and therefore United’s creative production has plummeted.
While most supporters accept that Fernandes has not been at his best in recent weeks, some now claim that his sluggish passing is the cause of United’s poor performances.
According to FBRef, Fernandes has the second lowest pass rate in the squad (72.6%) and the third highest number of intercepted passes per. 90 (3.01).
But you have to look at the bigger picture here. Rangnick’s philosophy is about getting the ball out as fast as possible, and Fernandes is simply doing what his manager has asked him to do.
In fact, he’s one of the few United players looking for a forward pass and he’s therefore far more likely to give the ball away than someone who’s just playing safe, backwards passes and not actually trying to move the team to a goal-scoring position. .
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I agree that Fernandes needs to step up and maybe he should be on the bench for a match or two, but putting all the blame on him is wrong on so many levels. You have to remember how good he actually has been since signing for the club.
His suspension for the Burnley match may actually make fans realize how important he is to the team. He will be a big miss and I fear we could be exposed to 90 minutes of passing backwards and sideways.
There are plenty of issues to be resolved at United right now, but Fernandes is not one of them.
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