Manchester United announced the appointment of their new interim manager Ralf Rangnick on Monday morning, with the German set to take charge until the end of the season.
The 63-year-old likes his teams to attack, take risks and be decisive on the ball. But perhaps the most vital pillar of his coaching philosophy is the need to press effectively.
In an interview with the Coaches’ Voice earlier this year, Rangnick described his playing style as: “A high-pressing, counter-pressing football. I would say fast, proactive, attacking, counter-attacking, counter-pressing and exciting.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with ESPN, he said: “We like to press high, with a very intense counter-pressure. When we have the ball, we do not like any square or back passes.”
So with the need to press such an important facet of Rangnick’s tactics, we looked at United’s stats this season to gain an understanding of which players could thrive under the new coach, and which may struggle to impress the incoming manager.
Fready for Rangnick
Firstly, we looked at the number of presses completed by each United player this season in all competitions, using stats from FBref.
Then that figure was divided by the number of minutes played by each player to determine who has pressed most regularly this season.
Those stats make encouraging reading for Fred, who has completed the most presses in the squad (321) and presses every 3.5 minutes.
Second on that list is Bruno Fernandes, with a press on the opposition every 4.9 minutes, while Pogba is something of a surprise in third with a press every 5.1 minutes.
Jesse Lingard hasn’t featured often this season but is fourth in this particular table (5.5 minutes), indicating he could play more minutes under Rangnick, while Jadon Sancho completes the top five (5.7 minutes).
Where does Ronaldo fit in?
At the other end of the table, the stats don’t make good reading for Cristiano Ronaldo, who completes a press every 15.5 minutes.
Only Victor Lindelof (18.9 minutes) has worse figures than the 36-year-old, while Harry Maguire is third-bottom (15.2 minutes).
Centre-backs make up four of the five lowest numbers, which is unsurprising given the positions they occupy on the pitch, although it’s notable the increase from Lindelof and Maguire’s figures to Eric Bailly (11.7 minutes) and Raphael Varane (11.5 minutes).
The stats also make uncomfortable reading for Anthony Martial who presses every 10.8 minutes, which, excluding Ronaldo, is significantly worse than the other attackers in the team.
Interestingly, Donny van de Beek posts the worst numbers of any United midfielder, despite a suggestion Rangnick’s appointment will kick-start his career in Manchester.
It’s also worth highlighting that midfielders and attackers generally post the best scores, then full-backs and centre-backs.
Full breakdown of United presses per minute
1. Fred (3.48), 2. Fernandes (4.91), 3. Pogba (5.10), 4. Lingard (5.47), 5. Sancho (5.65), 6. Rashford (6.03),, 7. McTominay (6.16), 8. Cavani (6.57), 9. Nemanja Matic (7.62), 10. Greenwood (7.92), 11. Wan-Bissaka (8.33), 12. Van de Beek (9.24), 13. Shaw (9.33), 14. Dalot (9.62), 15. Telles (10.53), 16. Martial (10.82), 17. Varane (11.48), 18. Bailly (6.67), 19. Maguire (15.16), 20. Ronaldo (15.48), 21. Lindelof (18.89).
Stats based on numbers from FBref. Does not include goalkeepers, players no longer at the club, or those who have played fewer than 90 minutes.