Manchester United vs Young Boys: 5 things we learnt

Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United came away with just a point against Young Boys at Old Trafford in the final group stage match. Mason Greenwood opened the scoring with a beautiful volley into the bottom corner. Rieder got the equaliser for the Swiss side after an error from Donny van de Beek. This match saw Rangnick give six academy players their Champions League debuts.

1. Greenwood back to scoring ways against Young Boys

Mason Greenwood, who began the season in scintillating form, found his shooting boots just in time for this Champions League clash. Greenwood, who set up Fred for his goal against Palace, found the back of the net with a Van Persie-esque finish. The Englishman began the game as a number nine, which is something we haven’t seen often this season. Rangnick put Greenwood on in a wider position at the weekend but has hinted at starting him in the number nine position at the weekend.

The 20-year-old has definitely made a case to start ahead of the out of form Marcus Rashford for the Premier League encounter against Norwich. Throughout the game against Young Boys, Greenwood’s passing was particularly impressive. The dynamic forward combined well with Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga and should have probably got an assist on the night. A complete performance from United’s number eleven.

2. Shaw wants his place back

Luke Shaw was one of the first names on the team sheet when Solskjaer was in charge. However, he is now finding his place under threat from Alex Telles. The Brazilian has been impressive in recent weeks in both an attacking and defensive sense. Shaw however put in a very solid display against Young Boys and even got an assist. Telles had replaced Shaw in the United team, due to his attacking output, but Shaw stepped up and was much better offensively in this match. Despite this, on many occasions during this game you could clearly see Rangnick urging Shaw to push higher up. There is strong competition in the left back position and it will be interesting to see who starts against Norwich.

During the festive period, the games will come thick and fast so Rangnick will likely rotate. If Shaw wants his position back permanently he will have too continue to be impressive in forward areas. Before the Euros, Shaw was in fine form for the Red Devils and maintained this form throughout the Euros. However, this season Shaw has been very inconsistent. The England international wasn’t at his very best against Young Boys, but has only just come back from a concussion injury. Against Young Boys, Shaw won all of his duels and kept attacks on his side down to a minimum.

3. Fitness building for fringe players

New boss Ralph Rangnick gave game-time to players who haven’t featured much so far this season. Starts were given out to Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard. None of these players put in a brilliant performance and this was down to a lack of match fitness. Additionally, these players had rarely played together meaning that there was little chemistry between the players out there.

Bailly and Matic, who both began at centre back, are both in contention for starts against Norwich. Donny van de Beek made a costly error which lead to the Young Boys equaliser and Lingard didn’t have any kind of impact on the game. Van de Beek began the game as the only defensive midfielder, an experiment which didn’t pay off. From now United fans are likely to the Dutchman in much more offensive areas. Although, the performances weren’t amazing, this game gave valuable minutes to some fringe players.

4. United’s youngsters shine against Young Boys

There were a staggering six Champions League debuts given out to United youngsters. Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga have both been training with the first team squad and it is understood that Rangnick has been keeping on eye on both. The two forwards were named in the starting eleven and finally got their chance to impress. The two youngsters both had a chance to get a Champions League goal at Old Trafford. Diallo opted for a pass instead of shooting and his poor decision making let him down. Elanga saw his effort saved in the second half, but was very lively throughout the game.

Charlier Savage (18), Zidane Iqbal (18), Teden Mengi (19) and Shola Shoretire (17) were all brought on to make their Champions League debuts. This would have given the United youngsters some amazing and valuable experience. Being brought onto make their debuts in front of a packed Old Trafford will give them a massive boost to really kick on. Tom Heaton, 35, was also brought on to make his debut in the second half, replacing Dean Henderson.

5. Rangnick continues to implement style

Against Crystal Palace, United came flying out but didn’t get the goal their play deserved. In this match, United came out in similar fashion but got that all-important goal. Shaw put in a pinpoint cross, which was put into the back of the net by Greenwood. Like the game against Palace, United’s high press began to become less evident as the game went on. The Reds were slow in possession and were almost inviting the press from Young Boys at times.

Although there is room for improvement, the Reds are beginning to look like a different side after only a few training sessions with the new boss. The 4-2-2-2 formation looks like something Rangnick will stick with. The formation gives United much more control in midfield, more organisation in defence, while maintaining a threat in the final third; this was evident against Young Boys. The Reds will discover their round of 16 opponents on Monday and will need to continue to improve under Rangnick if they want to go far in the competition.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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