Manchester United’s win over Burnley saw many positive things for Ralf Rangnick as his team won to a 3-1 win at Old Trafford.
United were clearly looking ahead to the next match rather than focusing on the one at hand.
United had 12 shots in the game in the first half, four on goal, which was a massive improvement over what we saw in the 1-1 draw against Newcastle.
It was a joyous display overall for the Old Trafford faithful, who witnessed the Rangnicks arguably the best match for United so far in his tenure.
At the start of the match, Rangnick made six changes to the team that played a draw at St. Louis. James Park on Monday night and there were massive differences in the way the ball was moved in the forward line.
Perhaps one of the most notable changes was in the backfield area, which has been talked about enormously since fans were exposed to Rangnick’s preferred system, 4-2-2-2.
There are no wingers in that formation, so the fullbacks rely on providing offensive support from the wide areas, and one player who rose massively was Luke Shaw.
25-year-old Shaw has been a bit of an outcast since Rangnick officially became United’s interim manager, and until Thursday had started just one match under the German in the 1-1 draw against Young Boys.
Shaw provided an assist in that match and was a real threat going forward, but his performance against Burnley was even better.
According to whoscored.com, Shaw had more ball possession in the first half (7.6 percent) than any other player on the field. Throughout the game, he had a pass accuracy of 89 percent, won 2 aerial duels and made two successful tackles – it was a sensational all-around performance.
One of the most striking elements of Shaw’s performance was his interplay with Jadon Sancho going forward. He regularly offered overlapping runs, causing so many problems for defender Matthew Lowton.
Shaw has been understudy in Rangnick’s three Premier League games before the Burnley game, and it was Alex Telles who was favored after his impressive performance against Crystal Palace.
While the Brazilian looked like an excellent challenge for Shaw’s position, his play was a bit endynamic – he seemed afraid of being caught out of position, which deterred his ability to move forward.
There were skeptics in the United fan base who believed that Shaw’s series of poor performances this season, while under Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reign, could have implied his chances under Rangnick. These thoughts were reinforced when a video on social media circulated by Rangnick saying the Reds ‘could cope with a new left-back’ in September 2020.
Since those comments were made, Shaw has improved his performance tremendously and many people forget that he was probably the best left-back in England last season. He even scored in the European Championship 2020 final, which was almost the epitome of the upward trajectory he had been on since 2020.
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But like many of United’s defenders this season, there has been a massive drop from where they left off last season. Could it be due to summer hangovers? Maybe since they have not been near good enough through parts of this campaign.
However, I have always thought that Shaw is a better left back than Telles. He seems to offer more going forward and feels confident in possession.
The form is temporary, but the hour is permanent – and it is clear that Rangnick himself has a simple decision to make.
Shaw is United’s best left-back, and if Rangnick is to stick to 4-2-2-2, he needs to start playing him more.
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