Ralf Rangnick started off his tenure at Manchester United with a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace. Although, Rangnick started with the same team which started against Arsenal, he opted for a 4-2-2-2 formation which saw Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford play upfront. This formation change allowed United to press high, dominate possession and get into dangerous areas on more occasions, especially in the first half. Rangnick in the below video went into detail of why he chose this particular tactic for his first game.
🧠 Ralf Rangnick goes in-depth on his high pressing 4-2-2-2 system…
— SPORF (@Sporf) December 5, 2021
“For me, the question was how do we get pressure on the ball, how do we get control? So I decided to play 4-2-2-2[formation] with two strikers, not Cristiano alone up front, together with Marcus, using pace for vertical balls.
“And, at the same time, with Jadon and Bruno on the two 10 positions, for the rest it was the same. We had enough space with Bruno and Jadon in those 10 positions for our full-backs to play forward and ask for the ball on the wing. So they almost played like wing-backs. Especially in the first-half, Alex and Diogo, did extremely well offensively and that’s why I played 4-2-2-2[formation]. I’m a big fan of every player plays in his best possible position.
“The most challenging, demanding positions in that formation are the two 10s but I still think, especially when Palace was in possession, Bruno and Jadon did well. It was a little bit new but not that new, it doesn’t make that much difference if Jadon plays a little further inside or outside but defensively they both did well.”
Ralf Rangnick formation for Manchester United
The most crucial positions in this formation are the two number 10s like Rangnick mentioned. As they are responsible for defending the wide areas without the ball and both Sancho and Fernandes performed admirably.
In the above screenshot we can see that Bruno Fernandes is pressing the Palace right back and Sancho did the same when Palace had the ball on the other side. Against better sides, this might not be a great tactics as the two number 10s might be pushed back deep into their half by much better attacking fullbacks.
Rangnick also praised the performance of the two midfielders, Fred and Scott McTominay.
🗣 Rangnick: "With those two numbers sixes [Fred & McTominay] we are able to play aggressive football against the ball." [@footballdaily]
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) December 5, 2021
This might mean more bad news for Donny Van de Beek as the Dutchman does not fit the number 6 role required for this formation and as a number 10, he would find it hard to be selected ahead of the likes Sancho, Fernandes, Greenwood or even Pogba when available.