As the wind and rain swirled around inside Turf Moor, you would have given a penny for the thoughts of a drenched Ralf Rangnick as he sat on the bench.
With his Adidas baseball cap pulled down and his club tracksuit zipped to the top, he cut a soggy, frustrated figure as he watched his Manchester United side drop more points in the Premier League.
He would have been forgiven for having second thoughts about taking over in November.
The German coach has already admitted his side haven’t made the level of progress he had hoped for so far, and if they don’t start clicking soon, then they face a real battle to finish in the top four.
However, his biggest battle is getting this team to perform consistently over 90 minutes and see out games.
The team’s play is certainly less chaotic than during the last few weeks of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign, primarily because, defensively, they are stronger.
Indeed, they have conceded just nine times in Rangnick’s 11 games in charge across all competitions, which is a huge improvement on the 25 goals United shipped during his predecessor’s final 10 fixtures.
“I think to gain control of games, we have to play proactively, no matter if we have the ball ourselves or if the other team is in possession of the ball,” Rangnick said in his very first press conference.
“It’s about helping the team to play together, it’s about togetherness, but it’s also about team spirit.”
The level of control that Rangnick spoke about has been evident in several games but never for a full 90 minutes, and that is one of the problems plaguing United and costing them points on a regular basis.
Just look at the way they dominated the opening half at Burnley yet still ended up being held to a 1-1 draw.
There is also the issue of goals drying up.
Since Rangnick’s arrival, United have only scored more than one goal in a game on two occasions.
In their past three outings, meanwhile, they have managed just three goals from 70 shots, only 17 of which were on target.
Many believe it would be unfair to blame Rangnick for his strikers’ inability to finish.
But the counter-argument would be that, at this stage, he should have got United both dominating and, crucially, scoring goals against inferior opposition.
Remember, United have faced four teams fighting relegation since his appointment.
Rangnick has failed to make the most of what was, on paper, an ideal run of games with which to build up some momentum.
And now, tougher opposition awaits, with United set to face both Manchester City and Liverpool in the coming weeks.
Cristiano Ronaldo has failed to score in his last five games.
It’s his worst drought since 2010 😰 pic.twitter.com/h21n2kYUTo
The team spirit Rangnick also planned to generate is also under scrutiny.
In the short time Rangnick has been at the helm, two of his players have taken to social media to challenge comments he had made about them to the press.
Rangnick and Solskjaer’s demeanour in press conferences could not be more different.
The former is not afraid to speak his mind on certain issues, which has led to some difficult conversations with some of his squad players.
When Rangnick upset Martial by claiming that the Frenchman had refused to play, club sources described the spat as a “misunderstanding” but the interim manager has not backed down. He continues to publicly stand by his version of events.
The Jesse Lingard situation is similar.
The attacking midfielder disputed Rangnick’s claim that he needed time off to “clear his head” after the deadline-day move he desired fell through.
Rangnick clearly calls things as he sees them and clearly has little issue with being blunt with both his players and the press.
However, is that type of man-management causing more problems than it’s solving?
Rangnick certainly needs as many players on his side as possible right now, given sources say that some members of the squad are not convinced by his training sessions.
Others even doubt his ability to do the job.
With the search for a permanent manager stepping up, it is understood there is growing support for Mauricio Pochettino within the dressing room.
However, who replaces him in the summer is the least of Rangnick’s problems right now.
He’s currently got a team that have dropped out of the top four, a star striker suffering his longest goal drought in over a decade, and a group of players so lacking in confidence in their own ability that when they concede a goal, they can’t get back into the game.
“It’s still a work in progress and there is still space for improvement,” Rangnick said last month.
“I try to work and improve the team and get better. As I said, we’ve taken a few steps forward, but not as quickly as I would have hoped.”
Time is not on his side, though.
With a Champions League tie and five big Premier League fixtures on the way, the next month could make or break United’s season.
Rangnick needs to start solving problems, and fast.
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