Ralf Rangnick has bumbled through his Manchester United tenure so far, but this month will be the acid test. And the chances are he is going to get burned. If so, the Manchester United board need to make better a decision than VAR officials seem capable of at the moment – a problem that increasingly points to Mike Riley’s leadership. Because as Leeds are in danger of finding out, if you have the wrong man in charge the dream can once again become a nightmare.
RANGNICK’S MARCHING ORDERS
If ever there is a month to become a turning point in a club’s history, it is Manchester United’s March.
After another disappointing goalless draw against Watford – where they managed to get just three of their 20 shots on target – the next 31 days have to be the measure of whether the Rangnick gamble has a chance of working or not.
After games against Manchester, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, United will have either re-established their credentials as genuine contenders – or more likely crashed out of Europe with little chance left of a top four position.
If the latter does indeed become the case, then it is hard to see the point in persevering in a direction that clearly is not working. If Rangnick cannot garner the support he needs in the dressing room, what hope is there of him inspiring confidence if he is tucked away upstairs?
YOU are only as good as your results in football and universally the result of VAR have been very, very disappointing.
What was striking about Manchester City’s lucky handball escape on Saturday is that the technology is clearly working – it is those using it that are at fault.
Who knows what sort of aberration caused Chris Kavanagh to stand alone in thinking the ball had not hit the arm of Rodri late in the game?
But it seems to be happening with alarming regularity under Mike Riley’s watch at the PGMOL.
Whether individuals are frozen with fear on the big calls or just devoid of confidence, in a football team the spotlight soon turns on the man in charge.
Too many good officials are turning in too many sub-par performances for it not to be worth trying some sort of a relaunch at the top.
MARSCHING ON TOGETHER DOWN WRONG ROUTE
Marcelo Bielsa’s departure from Leeds will be a loss to the tapestry of the Premier League but was a necessary reaction to their spectacular collapse.
Last season they seemed too good to go down – but then those words have haunted Elland Road in the past.
And that is the fear about going straight for Jesse Marsch.
The Leeds board did not get much right when “living the dream” turned into a nightmare at the start of the century, but appointing Peter Reid for eight games did keep them in the Premier League for one more season.
Their mistake was then to give him the job permanently. But right now, Leeds need a manager who knows how to escape that dreaded drop. Marsch would be a better appointment for the summer if they succeed.
On your marks, get set… No! Mathematicians everywhere have been scrabbling around for the proverbial fag packets now that Liverpool have closed the gap to six points with a game in hand a direct clash still to come in April.
But even if Liverpool can relentlessly put those wins on the board until the end of the season – just as they did in 2019 – City have been schooled for five years in how to do exactly the same.
And as for that head-to-head at the Etihad?
As long as Pep Guardiola doesn’t get into his Champions League mindset, Liverpool have only got the win they need in the Premier League once since 2008.