Sunday, June 26, 2022

Manchester United 1-1 Leicester: Main Talking Points As Ralf Rangnick’s Men Hang On For A Point At Old Trafford

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 3 Apr 2022

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In what was billed as a crucial showdown in Manchester United’s bid to secure a top-four finish this season, Ralf Rangnick’s side had to settle for a flattering 1-1 draw against Leicester on Saturday evening.

Marking their return from March’s international break with all eyes falling on Old Trafford, the former Premier League champions once again struggled to show any real signs of an improvement.

While Brazilian midfielder Fred might have bagged the equalizer on his 100th appearance just three minutes after Kelechi Iheanacho’s second-half opener, United will know that they were lucky to have left with a point.

Met by a chorus of boos from the Old Trafford faithful at the final whistle, Leicester would have undoubtedly left the pitch on Saturday evening feeling like they missed out on a golden chance.

In what could be a costly two points dropped by United come the end of the season, we have taken a look at the main talking points.

Rangnick underlines why he is not the man

While many might have originally tipped Rangnick’s arrival at Old Trafford back in November as a smart move by Saturday’s hosts, the former RB Leipzig boss has failed to offer any kind of impact on Manchester United’s fortunes.

With it confirmed prior to kick-off that attacking talisman Cristiano Ronaldo would not feature due to an illness, many were surprised to see Rangnick chose to play Bruno Fernades as a false nine.

With an out of form Marcus Rashford once again forced to watch on from the bench, United struggled to come to grips with Rangnick’s formation as they limped their way to the interval at 0-0.

Electing to make minimal tactical alterations throughout, it is hard to see any world where the 63-year-old will be handed a permanent role in the Old Trafford dugout passed the summer.

Heading into March’s international break by crashing out of the Champions League against Spanish outfit Atletico Madrid, any chance of ending their five-year wait for a piece of silverware has gone out the window.

With it appearing that Ajax’s Erik ten Hag is United’s number one choice to take over the reins ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, there is no doubt that Rangnick’s four months in charge have not gone how the German would have imagined.

Leicester extend on stellar United record

Watching Kelechi Iheanacho produce a sublime header across David de Gea on the 63rd minute, all signs were pointing towards another Leicester City upset at Old Trafford.

However, while Brendan Rodgers might have been left heartbroken to have seen his side eventually settle for a single point following Fred’s instantaneous equalizer, the Foxes certainly impressed on what was meant to have been Manchester United’s big day.

While James Maddison might have seen his late winner ruled out by VAR as Iheanacho was adjudged to have fouled Raphael Varane in the build-up, Saturday’s guests managed to extend on a remarkable run against the English heavyweights.

Storming their way to an action-packed 4-2 win when they welcomed United to the King Power back in October, the one-time Liverpool boss has gone unbeaten in each of his last five meetings against the top-four outsiders.

Dominating large spells here, Rodgers would have also been hugely excited to welcome back the defensive duo of Johnny Evans and Wesley Fofana at Old Trafford.

Playing together for the first-time since Leicester’s FA Cup Final victory against Chelsea last season, the Foxes will leave Manchester with plenty of positives to build on at the back end of the season.

Top-four gone for United?

Marking their return from March’s international break and making it clear that a top-four finish is the only thing on their agenda, Saturday’s 1-1 draw could prove crucial in Manchester United missing out on a Champions League return.

Watching on as Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have enjoyed quite the purple patch in north London, the Red Devils now find themselves in a real uphill battle at the back end of the season.

With Wolves picking up a 2-1 victory against local rivals Aston Villa just hours before kicking off at Old Trafford, Rangnick’s side have slipped down to sixth and have both West Ham and Wolves breathing down their neck.

With the Gunners making the trip to Selhurst Park when they face-off against Crystal Palace on Monday night, United fans will know that could be the final nail in their coffin.

Serving Arteta’s side the chance to widen their buffer in that lucrative fourth-spot to six points, and still holding another game in hand, United also have what is a testing end to the season.

With meetings against Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal still to come, have the Reds already played their way out of the top-four chase?

Match Report:

Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot, Maguire, Varane, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Elanga, Pogba, Sancho, Fernandes

Subs: Rashford, Telles, Matic

Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Fofana, Evans, Castagne, Tielemans, Mendy, Maddison, Dewsbury-Hall, Barnes, Iheanacho

Subs: Amarety, Choudhury

Goals: Manchester United: Fred 66′ – Leicester: Iheanacho 63′

Yellow Cards: Manchester United: Shaw, McTominay – Leicester: Tielemans, Fofana

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Andre Marriner

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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