A hint has been dropped ahead of United’s Manchester derby encounter against City on Sunday, according to Bruno Fernandes.
Even though Manchester United controlled the ball for about seventy-eight percent of the game and had 22 shots on goal, they were unable to break the deadlock. ‘attack, attack, attack’ screams from the Old Trafford faithful grew increasingly frustrated as the game progressed, and they were unable to achieve the desired outcome.
It was yet another letdown in a long line of squandered opportunities. All four of Manchester United’s matches following the winter break ended in defeat for the Red Devils; they should have won all of them. If they’d taken their opportunities, they’d be one point ahead of Chelsea in the Premier League and still in the FA Cup, their only realistic hope of winning a trophy.
After United’s stalemate with Watford, Ralf Rangnick’s anger was evident. “At the end of the day, it’s about efficiency, about being clinical in front of the goal,” Rangnick said. The German was critical of some of United’s players. As every United fan leaving Old Trafford that night was thinking, he stated it. Once again, United’s squandering proved to be a costly mistake.
United may still finish in the top four even if they can’t overcome relegation-threatened Watford and aren’t guaranteed a place in the Champions League. While their inconsistency would have been penalized in a normal season, United, West Ham, Arsenal, and Tottenham are all trying to bumble their way to the top four in the Premier League standings.
On the basis of last season, Arsenal are the most realistic threat to Manchester United, and they now trail United by two points but have three games in hand. There will be no room for error when Manchester United take on Manchester City on Sunday.
Manchester United will be keen for a win in the derby. Against Tottenham and Everton recently, Pep Guardiola’s team showed glimmers of vulnerability, and Rangnick will draw some encouragement from those outcomes. United will try to take advantage of their opponents’ flaws. The last time they faced Guardiola in the Manchester derby, they were able to pull it off despite all odds.
In spite of a lack of progress since the beginning of the year, United has a statistical advantage over its rivals. Under Rangnick, the team is creating more chances than they did under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Michael Carrick, but they are failing to take advantage of them.
United’s attempt to go head-to-head with City at the Etihad Stadium will be difficult, if not foolish. Rangnick wants United to have the majority of the ball in their hands, but Guardiola’s team is a master at controlling the ball. As a result, as has been the case in the most of recent Manchester derbies, United will be expected to play with substantially less possession of the ball, which could potentially be their tactical choice, as noted by Bruno Fernandes.
He was asked about Manchester United’s lackluster performance against Watford, and he suggested that the club is better when they do not have the majority of possession. According to Fernandes, the game was “exactly the same as the one we played against Middlesbrough in the cup.”
“However, we didn’t advance in that game, and we didn’t win today, so I’d rather generate one or two opportunities to win the game and, at the same time, maybe not have complete control over the game.”
What Fernandes had to say was reasonable. It was counter-attacking football that produced the best results for Manchester United against elite opponents under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and the club’s performances deteriorated when the Norwegian tried to play more expansively.
It was no longer acceptable to play on the counter-attack after the arrivals of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, and Cristiano Ronaldo, but given the circumstances and the quality of the opposition on Sunday, it appears to be the only acceptable option.
United has the form to shock City when they least expect it, and it would be characteristic for them all to deliver this weekend.