Speaking ahead of his team’s 0-0 draw with Watford (h/t Daily Mail), Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick explained why he decided to rest club captain Harry Maguire, citing weariness and tactical considerations.
The Red Devils dropped two points at home in yet another frustrating Premier League tie, as the players failed to convert many chances during the game. Man United dominated from the start but was unable to find the back of the net.
Rangnick may have been sure that his defense would not be pressed by the Hornets when he decided to rest Maguire for the game, claiming that the Englishman needed fresh legs and stamina for the home game yesterday night.
Watford rarely attacked Man United’s goal and was likely as wasteful as we were in terms of converting their chances. In the first half, David de Gea could have easily sat in the seats as Roy Hodgson’s team sat back and rejected wave after wave of our attempts.
After UCL, I required a lot of relaxation.
Man United was in Madrid in midweek for the opening leg of the Round of 16 of the Champions League, where they were held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid. This properly sets up the second leg tie-up, which we will tackle at home in less than three weeks.
Rangnick implied that the away trip would have resulted in some exhaustion among the players, especially Maguire when he remarked that the team returned from Madrid late at night because his players did not have enough time to recover from their previous game.
Fortunately for Rangnick, his decision to bench Maguire did not backfire, as the Red Devils kept a rare clean sheet at home in the Premier League. The German struggled at the other end of the pitch, as his side’s world-class forwards failed to score a single goal against relegation-threatened Watford.
The setback will impede United’s pursuit of a top-four finish, as the team surrendered points at home again despite facing relatively easy competition. Another match at Old Trafford took place earlier this month against Southampton, although the Red Devils had at least scored a goal in that game, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
United remains in the fourth position with the loss, but they are only two points ahead of Arsenal in fifth place, who have three games in hand and can easily overtake the Red Devils if they win their remaining games. Rangnick will need to find solutions to his goal-scoring difficulties swiftly if he wants to play in the Champions League next season.
Meanwhile, Maguire will be hoping to return for our next game and lead the team out against Manchester City next Saturday, in a derby that might decide our UCL aspirations at the end of the season. If United are to escape loss against the defending champions, the Englishman will need to be at his best.