Gary Neville called Manchester United’s performance in Norwich “a mystery” as interim manager Ralf Rangnick aims for more intensity in similar matches.
After an impressive first half against Crystal Palace last weekend during Rangnick’s first bench game, Neville expected something similar against the bottom of the Premier League.
But it was a lethargic performance from visitors to Carrow Road, with a number of United stars not shining. However, it was Cristiano Ronaldo who took the headlines again when he won and converted a penalty in the second half, securing Rangnick his second consecutive league victory.
United also had to thank goalkeeper David de Gea for claiming another clean sheet as he made a series of superb saves to keep Dean Smith’s spirited side at bay.
Reflecting on the game, Sky Sports’ Gary Neville said: “It was not a good performance. Against any other team in the league that would have caused them real problems. They will go to Brentford on Tuesday night and they have to do better than that otherwise they will be beaten. I think they will.
“We were told before the first game and throughout the week that United will be full of energy and high press. That didn’t exist today. It was really weird to understand what happened out there with the ball and out of it.
“Those players will have had a week off to prepare, so I was expecting a fiercely hectic start to the game. Really high pressing, lots of fast play and he was lethargic from minute one.
“On the ball they were so sloppy it’s not true. They gave it away so many times it was incredible.
“Last week against Crystal Palace, I think he had a moment in the match and it was a really confident defensive performance. There was a good structure for them, they blocked chances, they supported the attacks, they stopped the counterattack.
“Today I thought that any other league team that had anything more to them in terms of quality would cut Manchester United. There were spaces there in wide areas and then even in the second half, they were passing in the middle Norwich just didn’t. had the ruthlessness to be able to finish Manchester United.
“I think it was a clean sheet due to the fact that the goalkeeper made some saves and the team he was playing against is the worst offensive in the league.
“I see a manager who is just trying to incorporate his principles. If you had told him before the last game against Crystal Palace, you will have two Premier League wins and a clean sheet and you will have the opportunity to see all your players in Europe. in the middle of the week, it would tear your hand away.
“One of the things Ralf Rangnick had to try to solve first was the defensive problems and making them more difficult to deal with. I don’t think they were difficult to deal with today.
“The big mystery to me was why Manchester United were so lacking in energy. I thought it would be so much better than that, particularly with the fact that those players on the pitch had a week off to prepare for this match. .
So it’s a bit of a mystery regarding today’s match. We will know a little more after Tuesday’s game, as will Ralf Rangnick. He is still finding out about his players.
“I think there will be a problem with this system when they play teams with good full backs who have more quality because Dalot and Telles will be exposed. Fernandes and Sancho will not be able to get out in time for the moment a Cancelo, Robertson or Alexander-Arnold has hit that wing.
“But they have a few months before they face those players and by then I think he will have changed things a bit, he will have got to know the players.
“But I think it’s a good start as they have won both games. They have to win the games and build confidence in the new manager. They will see it as a good week, but United will have to improve a lot to get something. The next games.”
Rangnick wants more intensity
Interim Man Utd Rangnick manager has been honest about his side’s weaknesses at Carrow Road and aimed for greater intensity in the face of similar games.
She said Sky Sports: “It was a very physical, intense game, I already told Dean that they played very well, not at all like a back team. They played like we played against Crystal Palace.
“In the first 15 minutes we struggled tactically, but then it got better. In the second half we had better body language up front, but we still allowed them too many shots and corners, so in the end it was De Gea who made sure he was a clean sheet at the end.
“It’s about intensity, body language, physicality. It has always been that way. If you want to stay in control of a game like this you have to be physically present, and this wasn’t the case in all positions.
“Some of our players are technical, and today there wasn’t much room for technical solutions, so you have to be physically brave and compete on that kind of level. We have to increase our level of intensity in games like this.
“It’s not just a matter of individual players, it’s how we play as a team, but it’s also a question of who wins balls and second balls.
“We have to improve, we have to improve, that’s for sure. Tuesday against Brentford is a difficult match, it will be a challenge for us.”
The interim coach also updated on Victor Lindelof, substituted in the second half due to a mysterious illness, explaining: “He had a rear-end collision, he doesn’t even remember what it was, but he was struggling to breathe. He said he felt pain in his chest, but the they checked, they did all the tests and everything seems to be fine “.
Redknapp: United must lose terrible habits
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp has also been critical of United despite the win, and believes there are key areas they need to improve as they get started in a busy period of matches.
He said: “They have bad habits that have crept into their game for such a long time. The manager will have a hard time changing that. It’s not impossible, but he’ll have to use a lot of staff, cut and change players to see who wants to and He can do it.
“There are examples of no one pushing, no one running, no one going out of position, no one pointing the finger at someone not doing their job.
“This is something that needs to change because when I see other teams like Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea, they have players who are doing it and lead by example.
“Manchester United have to get out of these terrible habits that they have got into and that make the game too easy to deal with.
“Let’s talk about the fast-paced game that many modern managers want. There are a lot of players who don’t in that system. Especially when you play two up front, you’re leaving yourself isolated. The two wide men – Sancho and Fernandes – have to run and chase when they don’t have it.
“I didn’t think they had enough energy to do it today, but it was three points and they have some great games ahead of them.
“From that point of view Rangnick will be happy with the points, but I don’t think he can be happy with the performance.”
Smith: It was a soft penalty
The Manchester United penalty was awarded after Max Aarons was judged for fouling Ronaldo in the box, a decision that caused an uproar from Norwich both on and off the pitch.
Canarian head coach Dean Smith expressed his disappointment at the decision, as well as other facts during the match.
She said Sky Sport: “Did I see the penalty come back and touch it in the box? Yes. Does he have his arm raised? Yes. But I can show you five or six different challenges of the match, whether they are inside or outside the box, which were not given. there is no consistency there.
“I thought it was too easy for Manchester United to referee today: Marcus Rashford gave himself a free kick in the first half.
“For me, there has been a build-up during the match. You can’t have players refereeing the match and it seemed like they were. I will look like a sore underdog and maybe I am, but I don’t know. I think our performance deserved to be. lose today’s game. There were some questionable decisions.
“It’s a soft penalty, but there were soft moments during the game where he didn’t give them, so he has to be consistent.
“Today we had some really good moments in the match. I thought the performance levels were really good. There were times in the first half where we had to defend, but I thought we took the game for them in the second half and created a really good chance moments.
“But we know we have to improve in those great moments because they are the ones who will get us out of harm’s way.”