Manchester United suffered another setback in their pursuit for a top 4 finish after a demoralising second-half performance against neighbours City. It was an incoherent and lacklustre second-half display, to say the least. What made it all the more frustrating was that the team put up a decent showing in the first half which had moments of immense promise. Questions will now certainly be asked of manager Ralf Rangnick who has seemingly failed to get the team to perform over 90 minutes. Yes, there were a few injury setbacks before the match, but there couldn’t have been any excuses for the extremely poor showing in the second half by Manchester United. On that note here are a few of my thoughts from the game:

Defensive vulnerabilities crop up once again

Despite conceding fewer goals under Rangnick, United have nonetheless looked poor at the back. The midfield hasn’t helped one bit. It’s been a systemic issue at the club for a few years now and teams have found it very easy to bypass United’s midfield, whether it be in transition or when building up from the back. This compromises the defenders who have to then face up against opposition players galloping towards the goal. City were ruthless and made multiple fast-breaking forays into the United half across the 90 minutes. Considering this was Ralf Rangick’s stiffest test so far, there will be a genuine concern after tonight’s performance heading into the Champions League round of 16-second leg vs Atletico Madrid.

Inability to sustain good attacking play over a 90-minute period

Despite playing good football in the first half of games since the turn of the year, there seems to be a consistent dip in performances in the second half of matches. Jadon Sancho who has shone for United this year seems to drift out of games regularly in the second half. This is concerning because he also happens to be one of the more creative outlets in the team. The players need to try and build around Sancho and ensure he is given the support to make more of an impact. Rangnick has to take some responsibility and address this issue and ensure United stop dropping off in matches.

Ineffective in game management

Despite having made a few good substitutions in the odd game at United, Rangnick’s substitutions have in general been poor so far. There was a valid reason to remove Pogba in the initial period when he was making a comeback, but taking him off against City was a poor decision that further reduced United’s chances of finding an equaliser. He created the first goal, generally held the ball up well, and showed promise on the counter.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 06: Ralf Rangnick, Manager of Manchester United looks dejected following their sides defeat after the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on March 06, 2022, in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

In hindsight, you can argue bringing on a disenchanted Lingard to supplement an out-of-form Rashford to chase the game at Etihad seemed to be a poor decision. Poor substitutions have been a trend of late and Rangnick will have to improve on this front very soon.

Disappointing De Gea

I’m usually the first one to stand up and defend De Gea on the socials when there is criticism of his command of the penalty area, sweeping, and ball distribution skills. My usual line of argument is that – this season he has been shown phenomenal shot-stopping prowess that has proved to add a net positive impact on the club’s performances. But some of his long kick-outs today just made me wonder what is even the point. Any abuse directed towards David is unacceptable but I am starting to understand the frustration of most fans. Having said that, I should acknowledge that he made a few good saves in the game right in line with his shot-stopping exploits this season. However, his inability to show composure on the ball and ineffective ball distribution is getting tiring even for the most ardent De Gea backers, and today’s disastrous on-ball display might be the last straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

Is that a midfield or a sieve?

For all their positive traits, cutting off passing lanes and stopping runs in behind the midfield just doesn’t seem to be McFred’s strongest suits. This isn’t fresh knowledge, but how City tore through the United midfield once again highlighted the club’s incompetency in the transfer market over the past 3 years.

manchester united vs city derby wan-bissaka
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 06: Fred of Manchester United looks dejected as Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City celebrates with teammates after scoring their side’s fourth goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on March 06, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

I might sound like a broken record, but without a confident defensive midfielder who can shield our backline and progress the ball in an equally adept manner, this football club is destined to lag in the race for Premiership glory. Some of McTominay and Fred’s redeeming qualities don’t seem to add enough value to negate their actions in United’s half off-late and some would argue this has been an issue right from the Solskjaer era.

What’s happening to our right-backs?

Aaron Wan-Bissaka had a poor performance for United in the derby and has been inconsistent this season. Diogo Dalot showed positive signs when given a chance but his end product has been as poor as Wan-Bissaka’s. Rangnick certainly saw something to drop Dalot and reinstate Wan-Bissaka in the team, but that hasn’t exactly worked. Wan-Bissaka seems to have regressed in the facets of the game that he excelled at under Ole and his poor progression skills have compounded his overall impact.

Most United fans will tell you Dalot progresses the ball better, is better suited to take on defenders in one one-on-one situations, and also delivers more whip in his crosses albeit none of those crosses meet the target. Wan-Bissaka’s performances have been regularly criticised and rightly so, why then has Rangnick opted to omit Dalot from the starting lineup in recent games? It’s a question that has bemused most sections of the fanbase and another area that needs to be closely monitored in the coming weeks. If Wan-Bissaka cannot improve any further and Rangnick does not trust Dalot yet, things seem a little uncertain in that position for United.

Written by Anubhav Sarker | Feature Image by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

El Arte Del Futbol is an official content creator for OneFootball. Find more Original features, Player profiles, Manager Profiles and Tactical Analysis’ on www.elartedf.comIf you are reading this on our website, we’d like to thank you for your continuous support! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated with all the latest content.

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