Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick was not exactly full of praise for Ralf Rangnick’s side’s performance despite their 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round.
The Red Devils have produced some improved results and look more solid defensively since Rangnick took over as interim manager to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the team still isn’t providing much of an attacking threat in most games.
A report from The Athletic suggested that Rangnick attempted to fix that for the Villa game by changing his formation and trying a new way of communicating his tactics to his players, but Chadwick isn’t convinced it seemed to make much of a difference.
“You didn’t see a huge amount of difference … the shape was tweaked slightly, with Cavani at the tip of a 4-2-3-1,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside.
“The team spent the majority of the first half defending against a hungry-looking Villa team. United looked happy to defend their lead and it looked a bit risky at times, but paid off in the end.
“I think in terms of seeing a difference, it was the shape of the team to a shape they’re more used to playing. Good to see another clean sheet, it’s a huge improvement as goals were raining in before. In terms of attacking play, though, there wasn’t a huge amount of creativity of spark in the game, but it’s a positive result.
“It was a really tough game but the huge positive that came out of it was the result. The performance wasn’t brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, Aston Villa will probably feel a bit hard done by. The most realistic opportunity of silverware this season probably is the FA Cup, so it could turn out to be a massive result, even if it wasn’t a brilliant performance.”
Chadwick added that one attacking player who could provide more of a spark, Bruno Fernandes, is clearly not at the top of his game at the moment and his dip in form is a “concern”.
He added, however, that it’s perhaps inevitable that the Portugal international might be struggling with fatigue after playing so much football and carrying this side at times since he joined the club.
“It is a concern, but there’s not really one player in the squad right now who look to be at the top of their game or playing as they’d expect,” Chadwick said.
“I think Bruno obviously came in and had an incredible start, one of the best starts anyone’s had at Manchester United. He really carried the team for spells and became a real talisman.
“I think he’s not had a huge amount of rest and he looks a bit jaded. He’s rarely missed a minute and that does catch up with you. With the quality he’s got, hopefully he’ll come back and keep being a huge player for United.”