Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick says he expects that interim manager Ralf Rangnick will change his usual tactics for the upcoming clash with Manchester City.
The German tactician is highly regarded in the world of football, having been influential on the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, but his possession-based game might not be ideal against Pep Guardiola’s City side.
Chadwick thinks Rangnick will be aware that Man Utd are unlikely to be able to get more of the ball than City, so might revert to a more counter-attacking style, utilising the pace of players like Jadon Sancho and Anthony Elanga.
This approach worked for previous manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but it’s quite a departure from what we’ve seen from United under Rangnick.
“Man City are going to dominate possession, but United have got great weapons on the counter attack, with great pace and power in the wide areas,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside.
“You never know in those derby games, you almost fancy City more at Old Trafford than at the Etihad, based on recent results. It’ll be tough for United but I don’t think you can count them out.
“Rangnick’s a hugely experienced manager, so I think he’ll understand that United are not going to go to City and dominate possession. He’ll surely set up in a similar way to Solskjaer and try to counter attack. I expect he’ll change from his normal style for this game.”
Chadwick added that there should still be a role for Cristiano Ronaldo in Rangnick’s team, even if some might question where the veteran goal-poacher would fit in with a counter-attacking game built around pacey forwards.
“I think Ronaldo will start the game,” Chadwick said. “He is having a bit of a tough time in front of goal at the moment, but again, it’s a big game and this is where he comes to the fore. I’d be surprised if Rangnick left him out of one of the biggest games of the season.
“There’s pace from Rashford, Elanga or Sancho out wide, but I expect Ronaldo will start in that number 9 position. He was frustrated at the weekend against Watford but if he keeps getting chances he’ll score goals.
“I think Elanga will start the game, he was one of United’s best players at the weekend. He’s really positive, always gives United options with his pace and he’s probably the most in-form wide-man they’ve got at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he started this big game.”
Even though the Red Devils aren’t enjoying the best run of results going into the Manchester Derby, Chadwick is optimistic about how the players seem to be improving under Rangnick.
“I thought United played really well in the first half against Watford, it was some of the best football I’ve seen at Old Trafford for some time,” the former United ace said.
“It was fluid, it was slick, Pogba was doing well coming in from the left, I thought there was some really good stuff. Still in the last 25 minutes you could sense a bit of edginess and the team sort of ran out of ideas.
“The manager’s philosophy does seem to be coming in a bit more, they’re playing higher up the pitch. And on another day this could easily have been 3-0 to United at half time and we’d be talking about it very differently. No disrespect to Watford, but if United want that top four spot then that’s definitely a game they need to be winning.”