Ralf Rangnick’s red revolution rolls on thanks to a 4-2 win against Leeds United on Sunday, but everything is still far from perfect with this Manchester United side.
The shift to a 4-3-3 formation has added emphasis on the wingers to both provide the width and defend from the front.
After a shaky start to the season, Jadon Sancho has found his feet and under Rangnick has made a place on the left flank of his own.
But this leaves an obvious question. Given that the England winger was signed from Borussia Dortmund to play on the right-hand side, who replaces him there?
Marcus Rashford’s decline in form is worrying for United fans and has all the indications of being a prolonged slump. Jesse Lingard failed to impress in his appearance against Leeds on Sunday, so does not look like the answer either.
That means the mantle falls to Anthony Elanga, who has fought his way into the first team by showing a level of desire, energy and willingness to learn that has impressed Rangnick.
Elanga consistently makes good runs into space to allow options for passes and his pressing from the front is important for Rangnick’s playing philosophy.
The ironic thing in all this is that Rangnick could have had a more senior player who was able to do all these things in his squad if he wasn’t sold in the summer – he was also on the pitch in Leeds on Sunday.
Daniel James got a harsh deal at Old Trafford. When he joined United from Swansea City many fans expected that he would be a player for the future, behind another more first-team ready signing like Sancho.
But when an initial pursuit of Sancho came to nought in summer 2019 and James was thrust into a starting spot, many fans seemed to attach their disappointment with United’s transfer window onto the young winger.
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But regardless of his lack of output at times, the things that Elanga now does for United, James also did as well. He always made clever runs to find space and his work rate was unmatched by any other player under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Hindsight is 20-20, and at the time it was the right decision to sell James, given the fee that Leeds offered and the fact he had become a rotation option.
But it just goes to show how quickly football changes that he would easily start again under Rangnick right now less than a year after he departed.
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