Ralf Rangnick admitted he was delighted with Manchester United’s “exceptional” pressing after winning the first game of his interim spell in charge.
The Red Devils enjoyed large amounts of possession during their 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, but for over 75 minutes of the game Rangnick’s charges were unable to find a breakthrough.
But eventually the goal came, albeit from an unlikely source, as Fred combined with substitute Mason Greenwood on the edge of the penalty area, before bending a terrific curling shot into the top corner.
After the final whistle, 63-year-old Rangnick praised United’s overall display and singled out the relentless pressing from his players as a particular highlight.
He did warn, however, that his side – who were limited to just one training session under the German because of foul weather – still need to lift their game and improve a number of disciplines.
“I am very happy with the way the team performed, especially the first half hour, with the pressing, it was exceptional. The only thing missing was the 1-0 or 2-0,” Rangnick told BBC’s Match of the Day.
“The way we defended, we had control of the whole game, the clean sheet was the most important part.
“These are the things we must improve. We need to keep clean sheets. With just the one training session, I was really impressed. We did much better than expected.
“We always tried to be on the front foot. We were never not apart from maybe the last five minutes. At all other times we were trying to keep them away from our goal.
Rangnick reserved special praise for the qualities of Cristiano Ronaldo, before jokingly admitting that he’d been surprised by the quality of Fred’s strike because he’d used his weaker right foot.
“We wanted to play with two strikers, especially in the central position. By the way, Cristiano Ronaldo’s work off the ball, chapeau,” Rangnick continued.
[On Fred’s goal] “I had to ask my assistant coach if that was Fred’s right foot. I thought he could only shoot with his left. I’m happy for him.
“It’s always easier to build on things after you’re successful. We must produce further clean sheets and get better at creating chances for our attack. Overall I was very pleased with the way we played today.”