A STEADY ship is not what Manchester United fans want.
They want it to be full steam ahead with a course charted for the very top of the league – or right now the top four would do.
Rangnick has had a rough ride in the United hot-seat but he can turn things around with a win over the HammersCredit: PA
But after the turbulent, sorry end to Ole Solskjaer’s reign, a steady ship was what they needed, and right now there is an argument to say that is exactly what they have got.
Including Michael Carrick’s impressive three games as caretaker boss, United have played 12 games since Solskjaer’s departure.
They have won seven of those, drawn four, and lost just the one.
One of those draws was a meaningless game as far as United were concerned – against Young Boys having already topped their Champion’s League Group.
Another should really have been a win given they were 2-0 up at Aston Villa with 13 minutes remaining.
Yet it has become such the norm to criticise the Red Devils, that you have to sometimes double-check the scoreline to make sure they have won when an assessment is even made of their victories.
The 1-0 Cup win over Aston Villa is a case in point.
Even in the 3-1 win against Brentford, 50 percent of the debate was about an awful first half rather than how well they took their chances in the second.
That is how high the bar continues to be eight years on after Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
That is how much expectation there continues to be around the club.
Cristiano Ronaldo sulks after being subbed by boss Ralf Rangnick at Brentford
Ralf Rangnick has told Cristiano Ronaldo his tantrums are of ‘no benefit to anyone’
Expectation right now, it cannot match.
But it is better.
They are no longer a side who will be turned over by the likes of Leicester or Watford.
Indeed, I doubt they would even be outplayed to the extent they were against Liverpool or Manchester City either if Rangnick sent his side out against them.
A team that was leaking goals like a sieve has recorded three clean sheets under Rangnick with just a single goal conceded in five others and the two against Villa.
Granted David De Gea has not exactly been underused.
Rangnick looks to be settling on a very different back four to the one that was regularly imploding towards the end of Ole Solskjaer’s reign.
Injury knocks and illness may have dictated some selections but he seems very keen on his full-backs being Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles now – rather than Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Harry Maguire has found out the captain’s armband does not automatically earn him a place either, although he will start today against West Ham with Victor Lindelof taking time off – after a break-in at his home while he was on duty against Brentford.
Maguire has been sidelined, with a chest, or was it a rib injury, it seems to change.
But he has been fit enough to be on the bench the last two games and that rib did not hinder him when he came on in the final 19 minutes to help shore up a two-goal advantage this time.
That’s when Rangnick adapted to three at the back, having also started the game in a 4-3-3 – having now seemingly abandoned his much-vaunted 4-2-2-2.
Ronaldo threw a hissy fit after he was subbed off for the final stages of the win over Brentford
Rangnick is slowly carving out the tactics, formations and team he likes best, and it includes Fred and Scott McTominay in midfield – and deservedly so.
Jadon Sancho missed the Brentford game due to a family bereavement and will be out against the Hammers as well for the same reason, but he has a battle to unseat academy graduate Anthony Elanga.
Even Bruno Fernandes knows he is not safe having been left out the starting line-up for the game against Wolves – while Cristiano Ronaldo’s name does not entitle him to a full 90 minutes either.
Witness his strop when brought off after 71 minutes at Brentford.
The visit of David Moyes’ fourth-placed West Ham to Old Trafford will be the biggest test of his reign so far.
Come through that with a win, however, and the negative narrative around the club might start to change.
Steadily there are small signs that he is getting somewhere, not quickly enough for many, but the ship needed to be steadied and that is what he has done.
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