Gary Neville highlights instant Ralf Rangnick impact at Man United 8 months ago

Gary Neville highlights instant Ralf Rangnick impact at Man United

"They didn't do as much running yesterday but what they did was work smarter."

Ralf Rangnick only had one day on the training ground with Manchester United's players last week, so few would have expected to see much of a difference when they took to the field against Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon.

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Man United won the game 1-0, eventually finding the breakthrough with Fred's shot from the edge of the penalty area. It was far from a vintage display but, as pointed out by Gary Neville, there were signs that Rangnick is already having a positive impact.

Gary Neville on Ralf Ragnick's impact at Man United.

Dissecting the game on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football, Neville came armed with stats that showed the startling improvement in United's display compared to the average for the rest of their performances this season.

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Opponents had managed an average of 14.6 shots at United's goal in previous outings, with 4.9 on target. Both of these figures were reduced to 8 and 2 respectively against Palace. Also from a defensive point of view, xG against United had been 1.6 for their earlier games, whereas Patrick Vieira's men managed just 0.7.

United also made marked improvements in winning the ball back, nearly doubling the number of tackles made in earlier games.

Neville: Man United worked 'smarter' under Rangnick.

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"They were more competitive with more tackles and more duels," Neville said.

"Possessions won in the final third was a massive one (rising from 4.1 to 12) so what they did was sustained attacks, they stopped teams cutting back through them and they stopped counter attacks.

"In terms of opposition passes per defensive action (falling from 14.7 to 10), they won the ball back quicker."

Interestingly, such improvements did not come as a result of extra running, as some might have assumed. The statistics also showed United ran a combined distance of 101km, down from 105km, whereas their sprints were also down from 135.4 to 132.

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"Everybody thought it would be Klopp-style heavy metal, more work, more running," Neville added.  "Actually, they didn't do as much running yesterday but what they did was work smarter."

United's next game sees them play their final Champions League group game against Young Boys before returning to league action at Norwich next week.