Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick was pleased for Scott McTominay following his stand-out performance against Burnley in the Premier League.
The Scotland international was initially deemed doubtful for the game with an ankle issue, but he ended up playing the entire 93 minutes against Sean Dyche’s side yesterday.
The midfielder had a terrific outing. He opened the scoring after just eight minutes with a superb effort from the edge of the box to beat goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
A Ben Mee own goal from a Jadon Sancho cross made it 2-0 in the 27th minute. Few moments later, Ronaldo handed United a three-goal cushion after McTominay’s shot was blocked.
The 25-year-old’s shot towards the top corner was fantastically saved by the Clarets shot-stopper, but Ronaldo was on guard to tap home from the resulting rebound.
A defensive mistake from Eric Bailly contributed to Aaron Lennon making it 3-1 before the break, but the Clarets were unable to reduce the deficit after the interval.
McTominay had the license to make regular forward runs with Nemanja Matic acting as the defensive midfielder. He excelled in his role with three shots from outside the box.
His third strike was also on target, but Hennessey showed terrific reflexes to deny him. McTominay could have quite easily bagged a hat-trick if not the Welshman’s solid resolve.
He told Manutd.com: “We only decided this afternoon at two o’clock that he would play because he still had some problems with his ankle that he suffered at Newcastle.”
“So it was good to have him available and in the team. At half-time, our team doctor said he would be struggling in the second half after the level of pain but it was important to have him in the team and he was able to play for 93 minutes. A very important player for us today.”
McTominay has been ever-present in the line-up since Rangnick took interim charge this month. Fred was recently the best-performing midfielder, but he was dropped after a poor display at Newcastle United.
Hence, the Scot can’t take things for granted. His performance was exceptional last night, but the onus remains on finding consistency and whether he can make replicate his latest performance.
McTominay has a keen eye for goal, having been a striker during his development years. He was offered plenty of shooting space yesterday, but can’t anticipate similar situations against better opposition.
Manchester United injury latest as Ralf Rangnick waits on two players for Aston Villa
Aston Villa return to action on Monday when they travel to Manchester United for an FA Cup third round clash at Old Trafford.
Both sides are expected to make a raft of changes as the Premier League takes a break after a hectic fixture schedule and coronavirus outbreaks caused havoc over the Christmas period.
The two teams happen to meet the weekend after in the Premier League at Villa Park and there is likely to be one eye on that game too.
United, meanwhile, may make changes but interim manager Ralf Rangnick is under pressure even at this early stage of his career following the 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this week.
Rangnick will be keen to avoid another loss at Old Trafford with Villa already notching up a win at United this season.
He could bring back captain Harry Maguire into the starting line-up who, like his centre-back partner Victor Lindelof, missed Wolves.
Maguire missed the game with a chest injury picked up against Burnley last week with Raphael Varane and Phil Jones stepping in because of Lindelof’s absence and Eric Bailly missing out.
Rangnick could therefore be without Lindelof, Maguire, Bailly and Paul Pogba, who is out injured with a thigh injury and will miss Villa.
Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are suspended for the Premier League game meaning they will likely play in the FA Cup clash with Villa.
“Victor was still positive, so it was clear since yesterday morning that he would be out and Harry, he received that knock on his chest or whatever, in the game against Burnley so we thought he would be good again for tonight,” Rangnick said.
“But, yesterday, he was just trying and it was impossible. He even had too much pain when he was just standing around or sitting. It wasn’t possible for him to play.”
Fred’s strike is United’s Goal of the Month
Fred has deservedly won Manchester United’s Goal of the Month award for December 2021.
The Brazilian midfielder curled home a delightful effort from the edge of the area, to give the Reds a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, in what was Ralf Rangnick’s first game as interim manager.
Our no.17 hasn’t been the most regular of scorers since signing from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2018, with that strike at the beginning of the month taking him to six in a red shirt, from 140 appearances so far.
As the man himself noted after the game, it was also a rare goal with his weaker foot.
“It’s always good to score in a game, but today we win 1-0 and it’s nice that my goal can be so important,” Fred told MUTV’s Stewart Gardner, in a post-match interview he conducted in English.
“With me being left-footed, sometimes I try with my right. Mason gave me a good ball and, in that moment, I just looked for the goal and it happened. I’m very blessed.”
Fred received 31 per cent of the vote from supporters in our poll, with team-mate Mason Greenwood second on 21 per cent, for his acrobatic effort against Young Boys in the Champions League.
Another long-range strike – Scott McTominay’s opener versus Burnley in last week’s 3-1 win – took third place.
While David De Gea was named Player of the Month once more, following on from Cristiano Ronaldo’s September-October double, we have now had five different winners in the Goal of the Month category for 2021/22.
Manchester United squad vs Burnley includes Jesse Lingard but not Anthony Martial
Lingard, 29, was not part of the squad that drew 1-1 with Newcastle at the start of the week but was pictured arriving at the Lowry Hotel with the rest of the squad on Thursday afternoon.
United are not expecting the England international to leave in the January transfer window as he approaches the last six months of his contract — although he is free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs next month.
His recall comes as Ralf Rangnick’s side return to action without the aide of midfielder Bruno Fernandes. The Portuguese will miss the match against Burnley through suspension after he received a one-match ban for picking up his fifth Premier League booking of the season in the draw at St James’ Park.
Victor Lindelof was not spotted arriving at the team hotel after testing positive for Covid last weekend, while midfielder Paul Pogba remains sidelined through a thigh injury.
MEN photographers did not spot Anthony Martial arriving with the rest of the squad as the French forward looks set to leave the club on loan in the January transfer window.
United will be looking to put things right against Burnley after their draw with Newcastle at the start of the week and Rangnick admits he has not overseen as much progress as he would have liked to in his first four weeks as interim manager.
“Of course not,” he told reporters ahead of the match. “Every ambitious coach, and there is no difference between other coaches and myself in that area, wants to take faster steps and larger steps forward.
“But in order to do that, you need to be able to train and, as you know, we had to close Carrington for four days. Before that we had eight or nine field players in training directly after the Norwich game and they only came back in small bits and pieces.
“The last three days we were almost back to full strength with regard to the size of the squad but we couldn’t do that much in training. On the other hand, in those two or three training sessions, the team looked good.
“Therefore it really was a bit of a, in today’s game, a negative surprise the way that we played with regard to game speed and game tempo and physicality.”
Confirmed United squad members
De Gea, Heaton, Henderson; Bailly, Maguire, Varane, Dalot, Shaw, Telles, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Matic, McTominay, Van de Beek, Lingard; Sancho, Elanga, Rashford, Greenwood, Cavani, Ronaldo.
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