IAN LADYMAN: Ralf Rangnick is ready to begin his task of transforming Man United after watching their thrilling victory over Arsenal but it is not easy to turn a club around… just ask Gunners boss Mikel Arteta
How long does it take to fix a football club? Mikel Arteta is still waiting to find out.
The Arsenal manager has had more than 100 games now. Almost two years. This is what he said the day that he took control in the December of 2019.
‘We have to build a culture,’ he said.
‘I don’t want people hiding. I want people who will deliver passion and energy.
‘This is how we are going to live.’
Ralf Rangnick watched on as the new interim boss weighs up his new challenge at Man United
It has not been an easy ride for Arteta since that cosy day sitting around a table in an executive suite at the Emirates. Arsenal finished eighth that season and in the same position last time round, only five points better off.
In short, Arteta has found it desperately hard to turn Arsenal’s ship around.
The culture he spoke of remained questionable for quite some time and so did the football. On Thursday night they were okay but vulnerabilities remain. They have played at Anfield and Old Trafford in the last few weeks and have conceded seven goals and taken no points.
These days Arteta talks with credibility of genuine progress. There has been some but still the work goes on. They are not the elite team they once were.
Cristiano Ronaldo helped United to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Arsenal at Old Trafford
Rangnick has a sizeable task at hand to transform United in his six months in charge of the side
In Manchester Ralf Rangnick will not be given as much time. The German will take charge of Manchester United until the end of the season and then retreat in to the shadows from where he will advise. It is a bold and unusual arrangement and if it is to work then he will have to show that he can affect significant change almost immediately.
He was here on Thursday night for the first time, sitting in the directors box. On Friday morning he will be on the grass at Carrington and the work will begin.
Rangnick does not have as much to do as Arteta did when he began. He has many of the tools he needs in this squad. Nevertheless the task is large. Not much of what he saw here will have surprised him. The good and the bad of United’s football has long been apparent. If this team were not in need of fundamental guidance, he would not be here.
The thing about this United team is that they can play. They just don’t do it often enough and they make big mistakes, Arsenal’s opening goal being an example.
Turning a Premier League club around is no easy task, just ask Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta
The Spanish boss has been in charge for two years but is still struggling to turn things around
It was unfortunate for the injured David de Gea but replays showed his team-mate Fred ambling about with his arm raised. Had the Brazilian played to the whistle then he may have got himself in to a position to block Emile Smith-Rowe’s shot. But he didn’t so he couldn’t.
United improved greatly thereafter and this is the infuriating thing about the team Ole Gunnar Soslkjaer bequeaths. They scored two very good goals to lead. At times they were slick. Then, when they were dragged back to 2-2, they had the fortitude to come back at Arsenal again. Fred, it should be noted, played a significant part in two of his team’s goals.
The wider issue is that when United come up against the genuinely good teams they tend to fall short.
After such a poor start to the night, this was a more than decent performance. There was some character and resilience.
But in truth we don’t have a clue what Rangnick will get against Crystal Palace when he gravitates from directors’ box to touchline on Sunday? United have had many false dawns and so even have Arsenal. After half a season in charge, for example, Arteta engineered wins over Manchester City and Chelsea to lift the FA Cup.