Man Utd boss Ralf Rangnick hints at another new formation after narrow Aston Villa win

Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa: Rangnick reaction

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Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick has hinted he could tinker with his tactics again after his side beat Aston Villa 1-0 on Monday night. The Red Devils weren’t at their blockbuster best throughout the showdown at Old Trafford. However, they booked their place in the fourth round of the competition courtesy of a powerful header from midfielder Scott McTominay.

United headed into their match with Villa hoping to bounce back after losing 1-0 to Wolves last time out.

While it wasn’t pretty, they did exactly that with McTominay rising highest to head home Fred’s sublime delivery with just eight minutes on the clock.

United were better than they were against Wolves, even if their performance still left plenty to be desired.

With Cristiano Ronaldo ruled out through injury, they went with a 4-2-3-1 formation – the same one often used by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer throughout his time in charge.

However, in the closing stages following the introduction of Donny van de Beek, they then switched to a diamond.

And Rangnick, speaking after the game, has hinted he could use it more often because he felt it gave his team more ‘control’ on the proceedings.

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He said: We played a lot of diagonal balls; we kept the Villa team moving from one side to the other, scored a beautiful goal, but on the other hand, we were still struggling to get control in midfield.

“We knew that they are very flexible, Villa, with their midfield, with their two No 10s and their three No 6s and No 8s, so at times we were struggling.

“It got much better in the second half when we changed to a diamond and, yes, in the last 15 minutes, we controlled the game.

“On the counter-attack, I would have wished us to take better decisions in the second half.

“Then we could have scored maybe even a second goal, but with 1-0 it’s always tight until the very end.”


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On his initial formation tweak, he added: “We decided to play with a 4-2-3-1 with Edi up front, and with Bruno our No 10.

“But again, against a flexible midfield, at times, it was difficult, because with their 10s behind our sixes, ahead of our central defenders, it’s not too easy to defend that.

“It’s pretty challenging. As I said, after we changed to a diamond, it got better.”

Rangnick was also quizzed on his side’s pressing, admitting he didn’t necessarily see that being put into practice.

“I saw more aggression,” he said. “But I didn’t necessarily see that much more pressing, because in order to see those pressing moments, you have to get into those pressing moments.

“As I said, it’s difficult against Villa. But what I saw was a team that desperately wanted to win and, in the end, that’s why we won the game.”

While Rangnick was happy, Aston Villa counterpart Steven Gerrard believed his side were unfairly done.

He thinks Danny Ings’ goal should have stood, with VAR chalking it off after a lengthy delay.

Gerrard told BBC Sport: “How long have you got?

“The officials took three and a half minutes to settle that one. They have looked at two or three things in it.

“When VAR is there and they make a decision you have to accept it. There is nothing you can do to change it. The easy way out is to blame luck and the officials, we won’t do that.

“It’s very tough. We are out of the FA Cup and coming into this job I saw this competition as an opportunity to have a good run in it.

“The lads gave a lot in terms of performance but we need to learn and close the gap from a performance that was nearly good enough. We dominated for large parts but we were not ruthless enough.

“I’ve seen enough tonight in terms of the performance to know that I can get to where I want to get to but we need to learn and learn quickly. We need to be more ruthless moving forward, defending crosses we need to be tighter.

“We cannot be having people with free headers in our six yard box. It is quite clear what we need to iron out and we will do it in the short term.”

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