Manchester United need to use Anthony Elanga as their starting right-winger from this point forward.
Bar the blip of a miss in a penalty shoot-out against Middlebrough that saw United exit the FA Cup (and if we’re honest, it would have never gone that far had Cristiano Ronaldo converted his penalty during the match), Elanga’s performances have been impeccable since Ralf Rangnick brought him into the first-team fold.
Rangnick himself recognised Elanga’s importance to United in his post-match interview after the recent 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.
“Apart from his name, of course, I had heard about his name before but not as a player because he didn’t play for Manchester United,” Rangnick said. “The first training session the night before the Crystal Palace game, he was the player with the best training performance.
“I asked my staff members about him and found out he had almost already decided to leave the club on loan. So a week after the Palace game, I said, listen, I want you stay and see how you are doing in the training games until the end of the closure of the transfer window.
“I think right now he has just shown what is possible in football with the right mentality, the right approach, this is exactly what he did and what he always does in every training session.
“In all the games he has played so far, he just shows that he’s playing with all the passion and all the fun, he’s just enjoying himself on the pitch. He’s fully aware of his strengths, of his assets and his weapons. He is always trying to play and show those weapons.”
Aside from the goal against Atletico, Rangnick also referenced the good runs Elanga made to spread the play, which was starkly different to what Rashford and Jadon Sancho had offered as they preferred to drop deep to try and receive the ball under pressure, which Atletico exploited.
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Elanga’s energy also transfers to his defensive work, which is also something Rangnick has been wanting his players to improve upon in recent weeks. Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhuttl commented after his team’s 1-1 draw with United that a lot of United’s players did not have “reverse gears”.
All things considered, it stands to reason that for the foreseeable future Elanga must be United’s starting right-winger if they are to achieve balance within the squad.
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