By STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer
A performance of 90 minutes of intensity off the ball by Cristiano Ronaldo. A rare white sheet. And something even more unlikely – a goal from Fred, on his weaker right foot.
Ralf Rangnick is already working his magic at Manchester United.
The 63-year-old German led England’s biggest club in a game for the first time on Sunday, and his imprint was all over United’s unfussy 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace that ended in a chant from âWe Love You Rangnick, We Do Itâ by home fans to their new manager who is sometimes referred to as the âGodfather of Gegenpressingâ.
Indeed, United players pushed hard in a modified 4-2-2-2 lineup, even Ronaldo, 36, showing a work ethic that belied his age.
âCristiano Ronaldo’s work off the ball, hat,â Rangnick said with a smile.
But it wasn’t the most prolific goalscorer in world football who picked up the relentless victory to usher in the latest new era at United since Alex Ferguson retired eight years ago.
That honor has gone to Fred, the oft-maligned Brazilian midfielder whose pace of work and effort should make him a key member of Rangnick’s roster this season.
Goals aren’t Fred’s strong suit – his only one this season has come on opening day – but it looked somewhat natural in the way he calmly curled up in a brim finish. area with his right foot.
âI had to ask my assistant coach if it was Fred’s right foot,â Rangnick said.
Bruno Fernandes, Fred’s teammate, could have been even more surprised.
âFred has these times, once a year,â Fernandes said.
With Harry Maguire wrapping a bandage around his forehead for the last few minutes after a wicked-looking clash, United’s defense only managed their third clean sheet of the season in the league to complete a satisfying first game for Rangnick
âOverall I am more than happy. I was positively surprised by the physical condition and the intensity, âsaid Rangnick, who was mostly seen patrolling the technical area during the match.
“I didn’t expect them to play at this level after such a short time.”
United have jumped to sixth place and have a nice run of league games ahead – starting with a trip to Norwich next weekend – to facilitate Rangnick in his new role.
Antonio Conte is another manager who has had a successful debut for a Premier League side. There’s one more thing that turns out beyond the Italian at Tottenham, however – getting Harry Kane to score goals again.
A 3-0 win over Norwich was common, but contained no goal implication from Kane, who led the league in goals (23) and assists (14) last season. This season, after 14 matches, he has one goal and one assist – and they have come in the same game at Newcastle.
Lucas Moura, Davinson Sanchez and Son Heung-min were the scorers against Norwich as Spurs have three wins and one draw in four league appearances under Conte.
Tottenham climbed to fifth place and are two points behind fourth place West Ham with one game short.
KONSA INSPIRES GERRARD’S VILLA
The new manager’s rebound is also on the cards at Aston Villa, under the leadership of Steven Gerrard after a 2-1 win over Leicester.
It is now three wins in four games for Villa since the arrival of the former Liverpool midfielder who will make a moving return to his childhood club next weekend.
Gerrard will do so with his side who climbed into the top 10 after rallying to victory at Villa Park thanks to two goals from center-back Ezri Konsa, in the 17th and 54th minutes.
Harvey Barnes gave Leicester the lead in the 14th.
Gerrard had one over his former manager at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers, who now runs Leicester. It was a revival of their coaching rivalry that was seen in Scotland when Gerrard was with Rangers and Rodgers was with Glasgow’s team Celtic.
In the other game, England striker Patrick Bamford made his first appearance after more than two months of injury with an equalizer in the fifth minute of added time to allow Leeds to draw Brentford 2-2 at home.
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