Paul Pogba was one of Manchester United’s greatest players in the 4-2 triumph over Leeds, so it came as a surprise when he was substituted by Fred with a goal required to put the Red Devils back in ahead.
Leeds’ man-marking style creates individual duels all over the pitch, and Pogba was dominating him with Adam Forshaw.
Having said that, Fred made an immediate effect, while fellow substitute Anthony Elanga secured the game, so Ralf Rangnick deserves praise for his substitutions.
After the game, Rangnick was queried about the substitutions by Sky Sports, and he explained why he substituted Pogba for Fred.
“It’s easy to say that afterward,” Rangnick said when asked if he felt any extra joy from the fact that two of his substitutes scored.
“However, I believe we required that level of ferocity.” Paul, I wouldn’t say he was fatigued, but he was exhausted, which is usual after such a long injury layoff.
“And with Fred and Anthony Elanga on the bench, we had two energetic players, so we opted to take those subs very early.”
There is also the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, and Rangnick may require Pogba to play the whole 90 minutes.
Few would have guessed that Fred would put United back in front, but he did score in the rematch on the first day of the season.
United have been giving up leads too easily recently, and they did the same here, but the difference was that they went again in extremely difficult circumstances.
That should boost confidence and momentum ahead of the Champions League’s return, and Rangnick mixing his players as well as he did tonight also helps.