Edinson Cavani proved to be Manchester United ‘s saviour as he came off the bench to scramble in an equaliser against Newcastle on Monday night but Ralf Rangnick has revealed his plans for the striker changed shortly before the match.
The Uruguayan looked to be an inspired substitution having entered the action at St. James’ Park at half time before netting a vital leveller with a scruffy strike as United struggled to find a breakthrough against the lowly Magpies.
Both Barcelona and Corinthians have been linked with the forward’s services amid heavy talk of an Old Trafford departure in January, but Cavani once again proved his worth to United with a key contribution.
The vital equaliser was the striker’s second goal of the season, with his previous coming in his last Premier League outing against Tottenham in late October, as injures have hampered his campaign thus far.
United manager Rangnick has now revealed that it wasn’t actually his intention to bring the 34-year-old off the bench, but he was forced to alter his plan after pre-game talks with the striker.
In fact, Rangnick was keen to start the forward from the outset, but it was Cavani who convinced his boss to err on the side of caution and leave him out to begin with, amid his own fitness concerns.
“Actually, in the last two days I was also considering to play him from the start,” Rangnick admitted.
“I spoke to him yesterday and the day before yesterday and he didn’t feel comfortable to play from the beginning.
“He didn’t know how fit he really was but today after being 1-0 down at half-time it was clear to me that we had to take more risks, we needed to change something and that’s why we decided to bring on him and Jadon [Sancho] at half-time.”
Rangnick’s comments suggest Cavani could now be given a starting berth when the Red Devils host Burnley on Thursday evening, having dispelled any doubts over his fitness with his impact from the bench.
Seventh-placed United once again found themselves under heavy criticism as they continued to look unspectacular having registered two narrow 1-0 wins in their previous two Premier League games under Rangnick – his first outings as manager.
The closure of United’s Carrington training base as result of Coronavirus cases sweeping through the squad won’t have helped preparations with the Newcastle game being the Red Devils first match in 16 days.
Rangnick admitted he isn’t satisfied with United’s progress since his arrival and acknowledged the frustrations caused as a result of the recent disruptions.
“Of course I’m not [happy with how the team have developed],” Rangnick declared.
“Every coach, 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.
“We had eight or nine players in training directly after the Norwich game and they only came back in bits and pieces.
“The last few 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 and therefore in (Monday’s) game it was a bit of a negative surprise, the way that we played with regard to game speed, game tempo and physicality.”