Manchester United’s win against Burnley saw plenty of positives for Ralf Rangnick, as his side cruised to a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford.
United were the better side for significant parts of the game, despite looking shaky in the centre of defence, but the attacking side of the game was something to admire.
United had 12 shots in the game in the first half, four on target, which was a massive improvement compared to what we saw in the 1-1 draw against Newcastle.
It was a pleasing display all-round for the Old Trafford faithful, who witnessed arguably Rangnick’s best game for United so far in his tenure.
At the start of the game, Rangnick made six changes to the team that drew at St. James Park on Monday night, and there were massive differences in the way the ball was moved in the forward line.
One of the most significant changes was perhaps in the full-back area, which has been spoken about hugely since fans became exposed to Rangnick’s favoured system, the 4-2-2-2.
There are no wingers in that formation, so the full-backs are relied upon to provide offensive support from the wide areas, and one player who stepped up massively was Luke Shaw.
25-year-old Shaw has been a bit of an outcast since Rangnick officially became United’s interim manager, and up until Thursday had started just one match under the German in the 1-1 draw against Young Boys.
Shaw provided an assist in that game and was a real threat going forward, but his performance against Burnley was even better.
As per whoscored.com, Shaw had more possession in the first half (7.6 per cent) than any other player on the pitch. Throughout the game, he had an 89 per cent pass accuracy, won 2 aerial duels and made two successful tackles – it was a sensational all-around performance.
One of the most eye-catching elements of Shaw’s performance was his link-up play with Jadon Sancho going forward. He regularly offered overlapping runs, which caused so many problems for defender Matthew Lowton.
Shaw has been the understudy in Rangnick’s three Premier League matches before the Burnley game, and it was Alex Telles who was favoured after his impressive performance against Crystal Palace.
While the Brazilian was looking like an excellent challenge to Shaw’s position, his game was a bit one-dynamic – he seemed afraid to get caught out of position, deterring his ability to go forward.
There were sceptics in the United fanbase who thought that Shaw’s string of poor performances this season, while under the reign of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, could’ve implicated his chances under Rangnick. These thoughts were heightened when a video on social media circulated of Rangnick saying the Red’s ‘could do with a new left-back’ in September 2020.
Since those comments were made, Shaw has massively improved in his performances, and many people forget that he was probably the best left-back in England last season. He even scored in the Euro 2020 final, which almost epitomised the upward trajectory he’d been on since 2020.
Just like you, we can’t get enough of Manchester United! That’s why we’ve decided to supplement our expansive United coverage on the Manchester Evening News with a more fan-oriented platform catered specifically to United fans – United On My Mind.
Writers and presenters who share your passion for the red side of Manchester will be producing written, visual and audio content to reflect the mood in the stands as well as the press box.
But, like a lot of United’s defenders this season, there’s been a massive drop-off from where they left off last season. Could this be due to a summer hangover? Perhaps, seeing as they’ve been nowhere near good enough throughout parts of this campaign.
However, I’ve always thought that Shaw is better left-back all-around than Telles. He seems to offer more going forward and feels confident in possession.
The form is temporary, but the class is permanent – and it’s clear that Rangnick himself has a simple decision to make.
Shaw is United’s best left-back, and if Rangnick is to stick to the 4-2-2-2, he has to start playing him more.
What did you think of Shaw’s performance? Follow our United On My Mind writer Omar Garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.