Ralf Rangnick might have found his two perfect Manchester United wingers
Manchester United’s triumph over Brighton this week may not have been ideal, but it may have provided Ralf Rangnick with some assistance in choosing the correct team for him.
After a string of draws, it was no surprise to see the interim manager make changes in defence, midfield, and attack for the game against Brighton.
Although not all of them were successful, they were at least vindicated by the fact that United won by three points rather than one.
United’s two starting wingers on the night were crucial to the victory, with Rangnick sticking with the in-form Jadon Sancho on the left wing while handing Anthony Elanga his first start on the right.
Neither player had a direct goal involvement throughout the match, but they both contributed significantly to the victory with their tireless efforts and dedication.
Sancho continued to dazzle with some spectacular dribbles, including one daring nutmeg, and Elanga was instrumental in the game’s outcome when he rushed at goal and drew a red card challenge from the unlucky Lewis Dunk.
The duo has already demonstrated their offensive prowess since Rangnick took over, but the interim manager prefers them because of what else they have to give, particularly in terms of winning possession and contributing to an attacking system that prioritises speed.
Sancho has the most average ball recoveries per match of all the senior attacking options at the club, with 4.8, followed by Elanga, who has an average of 4.3 per match.
The easy win is to compare these to Cristiano Ronaldo, who only averages 2 points each game, but the most fair comparison is to Marcus Rashford, who averages 3.4 points per game and plays in a similar capacity.
Another aspect in their favour is that they obviously dominate the pack in average sprints over 90 minutes, with Elanga clocking in at 28.7 and Sancho coming in second with 21.9. With a score of 20.7, Rashford is no slouch, but he is much behind the Swedish teenager.
Last but not least, the average distance travelled. Once again, Elanga sets the bar with 11.7 kilometres covered every 90 minutes of football, with Edinson Cavani coming in second with 11.6 kilometres. Sancho is third on the list, averaging 10.8 kilometres per game, while the club’s other strikers all average between 9 and 10 kilometres per game.
With a focus on hard work and a desire to participate higher up the pitch, it’s easy to see why Ragnick has given Sancho and Elanga so much playing time since taking over at the club.
Given the resistance they will encounter in the coming weeks, the pair will face greater challenges, but they have both proved why they deserve those opportunities.