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Three things Ralf Rangnick got wrong and one he got right as Man United poor in Brighton win

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Cristiano Ronaldo spared Ralf Rangnick’s blushes as he helped gloss over another another lacklustre performance as Manchester United edged to a 2-0 win over Brighton.

United had David de Gea to thank for thwarting Jakub Moder on the brink of half-time to ensure the hosts went in at the break level – although they were booed off by their own fans.

But Ronaldo struck just six minutes after the break before Adam Webster was given his marching orders shortly after to hand United control.

Bruno Fernandes added a second in the dying moments to make the game safe.

The win moves United up to fourth in the league and keeps their hopes of pinching a Champions League spot alive after disappointing results against Burnley and Southampton in the last week.

Three things he got wrong…

Passive gameplan

Brighton absolutely dominated proceedings in the first period at Old Trafford and should have been ahead by the break.

But United made things all too easy for them.

United seemed quite content to sit off and give their visitors all the time in the world on the ball.

There was no tempo at all to United’s play and they showed too much respect to Brighton, who were given far too much space to play their game.

They absolutely battered United before the break – and they only have themselves to blame for not taking anything from the game.

United may have stole the points but Brighton looked like the only team on the pitch with a cohesive gameplan.

Lacklustre Fred

It was another disappointing night from Fred, who was tasked with leading United’s press.

But unfortunately for the Brazilian midfielder, he was completely erratic both on and off the ball against the Seagulls.

Brighton’s impressive, cohesive press only served to make Fred’s attempts look more and more ridiculous as the night went on.

United failed to complete a single tackle in the first half, with the pairing of Fred and Scott McTominay left horribly exposed once again.

The 28-year-old’s night was summed up after the decision to replace him with Paul Pogba was cheered by United’s fans late in the day.

Leaving out Pogba

Pogba was one of the few United players to emerge from their recent clashes with Burnley and Southampton with any credit.

Rangnick is clearly being cautious with the Frenchman after his long spell on the sidelines, but United sorely missed Pogba on Tuesday night.

You could argue that the game against Brighton was United’s toughest on paper over the past week, which begs the question as to why Rangnick didn’t hold Pogba back against Burnley or Southampton.

The 28-year-old divides opinion at times, but his influence was sorely missed against Brighton – who absolutely bossed the midfield battle all night.

And one thing he got right…

Keeping faith with Ronaldo

It would have been easy for Rangnick to axe Ronaldo given the veteran’s alarming run of form.

But the German innovator kept faith with United’s talisman – and he was rewarded with a top display.

Ronaldo was at the heart of everything positive about United’s play and he was in the right place at right time to give United the perfect start to the second half.

It’s now 15 goals for the season for Ronaldo – but his strike against the Seagulls was arguably his most important yet.

The onus will now be on Ronaldo to get back amongst the goals on a regular basis after finally ending his six-game drought.

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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