When Manchester United’s Twitter account revealed Ralf Rangnick’s starting line-up an hour before kick-off at Elland Road on Sunday afternoon, almost every United supporter and journalist, simultaneously, gasped with surprise.
The inclusions of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jesse Lingard had come from nowhere and the decision to keep Victor Lindelof at centre-back at Raphael Varane’s expense also raised a few eyebrows.
Wan-Bissaka had not started any of United’s previous eight matches in league and cup and you had to go all the way back to New Year’s Day 2020 for the last time Lingard had started a Premier League game in United colours.
Their inclusions were bold decisions from Rangnick and it showed tremendous levels of courage and bravery to throw them into a game of such magnitude from the off.
And while Wan-Bissaka was caught out of position for both Leeds’ quick-fire goals after half time, he did, to his credit, produce some well-timed challenges and complete the most passes and win the most tackles of any United player on the pitch.
Lingard, meanwhile, struggled to grasp his opportunity with both hands and was taken off in the second half.
Having replaced Diogo Dalot with Wan-Bissaka at Elland Road, Rangnick now faces making a difficult decision ahead of Wednesday evening’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.
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Out of the two, Dalot is the more attack-minded of the pair, meaning he will carry a greater threat out wide when bombing forward and looking to find Cristiano Ronaldo with crosses in the middle.
The Portuguese international has not registered a single assist this season but he does like to get forward more than Wan-Bissaka, especially with the ball at his feet.
With Atletico set to be without left-winger Yannick Carrasco through suspension, and a late check set to be needed on Thomas Lemar — after a recent positive Covid-19 test — Dalot could be allowed to bomb forward without needing to worry too much about the Spanish side’s attacking threat.
Although Atletico remain hopeful of Lemar being available for selection, the prospect of him missing out means that Brazilian left-back Renan Lodi will almost certainly take up a left wing-back role.