Ralf Rangnick was surprised by how well Manchester United adapted to his demands in their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace after only one training session with the squad that lasted under an hour.
The United players who started against Arsenal on Thursday night had recovery sessions on Friday and the inclement weather in Manchester on Saturday forced Rangnick to condense his first training session into 45 minutes.
Rangnick decided to name an unchanged team from the 3-2 win over Arsenal but United started in a 4-2-2-2 formation and excelled in the first-half that somehow ended goalless.
United had their best first-half of the season for passes into the final third, touches in the opponent’s penalty area, passes into the opponent’s penalty area and possession won in the final third.
Rangnick is a major advocate of video analysis and resorted to footage to instruct the players how he wanted United to start the game.
“I must admit I was surprised,” Rangnick said. “I was a bit surprised, because not only did we play Thursday, a late kick-off, we had two days less to recover compared to Crystal Palace.
“And we had not even a full training session yesterday because it was 45 minutes, it was pouring. It was not just Manchester weather, it was disgusting, it was heavy, raining, windy, so it was almost impossible to train in a concentrated and focused manner.
“But they still did it. In those 45 minutes on the pitch we explained how we want to play, which manner we want to play and the rest was video footage, a lot of personal conversations with players, individual, in groups, explaining to them how we want to play.
“I didn’t expect them to play at that level after such a short time.”
United recorded their first Premier League clean sheet at Old Trafford since March 14 and won back-to-back games for the first time since September 11.
Although United had just three attempts on target, their first-half dominance was apparent and Rangnick only rued their failure to score before half-time.
“I was positively surprised by the physical state and intensity, the first half-hour was amazing,” he beamed. “I felt it was extremely high-tempo, high intensity, always on the front foot, the only thing missing in the first half-hour was not scoring one, two or three goals.
“But for me it was clear you cannot play the whole game, 90 minutes, at this level of intensity. But even after that we had control of the game. Scond-half, we started again well and, in the end, we deserved to win.
“I’m more than happy with a clean sheet, a beautiful goal with his weak right foot by Fred! It was about gaining control and we had control most of the time in the game.
“Maybe the last three or four minutes, they took all the risk they could, we had to defend corner kicks and free-kicks but did in a very brave way. Harry [Maguire] being injured, coming back again. It was a perfect first game for us to play.”Internet Explorer Channel Network