Malta Independent

New-manager bounce in full flow at Man United, Spurs, Villa


A 90-minute performanc­e of offthe-ball intensity by Cristiano Ronaldo. A rare clean sheet. And something even more unlikely — a goal by Fred, off his weaker right foot.

Ralf Rangnick is already working his magic at Manchester United.

The 63-year-old German led England's biggest club into a game for the first time on Sunday, and his imprint was all over United's unfussy 1-0 win over Crystal Palace that ended with a chant of "We love you Rangnick, we do" by home fans toward their new manager who is sometimes referred to as the "Godfather of Gegenpress­ing."

Indeed, United's players pressed high and hard in a tweaked 4-2-22 formation, with even the 36year-old Ronaldo showing a work ethic that belied his age.

"Cristiano Ronaldo's work off the ball, chapeau," Rangnick said with a smile.

But it wasn't world soccer's most prolific scorer who clinched the hard-fought win to kick off the latest new era at United since Alex Ferguson's retirement eight years ago.

That honor fell to Fred, the oftmaligne­d Brazil midfielder whose work rate and endeavor is likely to make him a key member of Rangnick's lineup this season.

Goals aren't Fred's strong point — his only one this season came on the opening day — but he looked something of a natural the way he calmly curled in a finish from the edge of the area with his right foot.

"I had to ask my assistant coach if that was Fred's right foot," Rangnick said.

Bruno Fernandes, Fred's teammate, might have been even more surprised.

"Fred has these moments, one shot per year," Fernandes said.

With Harry Maguire donning a bandage around his forehead for the final minutes after a nastylooki­ng clash, United's defense eked out only its third clean sheet of the season in the league to complete a satisfying first game for Rangnick

"Overall I am more than happy. I was positively surprised by the physical state and intensity," said Rangnick, who was mostly seen patrolling the technical area during the match.

"I didn't expect them to play on that kind of level after such a short time."

United jumped up to sixth place and has a nice-looking run of upcoming league fixtures — starting with a trip to Norwich next weekend — to ease Rangnick into his new role.


Another manager who has had a successful start at a Premier

League team is Antonio Conte. There's still one thing that is proving beyond the Italian at Tottenham, though — getting Harry Kane scoring goals again.

A 3-0 victory over Norwich was routine but didn't contain any goal involvemen­t from Kane, who led the league in goals (23) and assists (14) last season. This season, after 14 matches, he has one goal and one assist — and they came in the same game at Newcastle.

Lucas Moura, Davinson Sanchez and Son Heung-min were the scorers against Norwich as Spurs made it three wins and a draw in four league games under Conte.

Tottenham climbed to fifth place and is two points off fourth-place West Ham with a game in hand.


The new-manager bounce is in full force at Aston Villa, too, under Steven Gerrard after a 2-1 win over Leicester.

It's now three victories in four games for Villa since the arrival of the former Liverpool midfielder who will make an emotional return to his boyhood club next weekend.

Gerrard will do so with his team having climbed into the top 10 after rallying for a win at Villa Park thanks to two goals by center back Ezri Konsa, in the 17th and 54th minutes.

Harvey Barnes put Leicester ahead in the 14th.

Gerrard got one over his former manager at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers, who now leads Leicester. It was a renewal of their coaching rivalry that was seen in Scotland when Gerrard was at Rangers and Rodgers was at fellow Glasgow team Celtic.

In the other game, England striker Patrick Bamford marked his first appearance after more than two months through injury with an equalizer in the fifth minute of added time to earn Leeds a 2-2 draw at home to Brentford.

Freiburg scores 6 goals in first half to destroy Gladbach

After watching his team score six goals in a devastatin­g first half at Borussia Mönchengla­dbach, Freiburg coach Christian Streich’s first reaction was to console an opposing player.

Streich’s team would go on to close out a 6-0 rout of Gladbach for its biggest-ever win in the Bundesliga on Sunday, but the Freiburg coach embraced Breel Embolo and spoke to the Switzerlan­d striker as the home team’s desolate players trudged off the field at halftime.

“I was often left standing or disappoint­ed on the other side after things didn’t go well, and it always stayed with me, because we’re sports people and only one (team) can win,” Streich said.

Streich, the longest serving coach in the league, called the game “bizarre.”

There were six different scorers as everything worked in the first 37 minutes for Freiburg, which ended a three-game losing run in style to move back up to fourth.

“Last week in Bochum (a 2-1 loss) ... and now every action from us leads to a goal in the first half,” Streich said. “That’s inexplicab­le, but what’s great is that the team played with a lot of courage. We had decided to play like that, a 43-2-1 (formation), and that was rewarded. The team produced a brilliant performanc­e.”

Freiburg hadn’t beaten Gladbach away in the Bundesliga in 17 attempts since its solitary 2-1 win in 1995, and faced a tough prospect with Gladbach hoping to atone for its 4-1 loss at Cologne in the Rhine derby last weekend.

But Streich’s team paid no heed to the statistics as Maximilian Eggestein opened the scoring in the second minute, Kevin Schade added another goal two minutes later and Philipp Lienhart made it 3-0 in the 12th.

Nicolas Höfler got the fourth goal in the 19th, six minutes before setting up Lucas Höler for the fifth.

It was the first time since Gladbach trounced Eintracht Braunschwe­ig 10-0 in 1984 that any team racked up five goals in the opening 25 minutes. No team had ever done it away from home before.

Gladbach coach Adi Hütter reacted with two substituti­ons around the half-hour mark, but it did little to change his team’s fortunes.

Immobile scores 2 for Lazio

Ciro Immobile scored twice as Lazio comfortabl­y won 3-1 at Sampdoria despite playing the final quarter of the match with 10 men on Sunday in Serie A.

Lazio moved level with city rival Roma, nine points behind Atalanta in fourth place and the final Champions League berth.

Fiorentina moved into fifth after winning 3-2 at Bologna.

Lazio had only picked up one point from its past three league matches and that came in Thursday's extraordin­ary 4-4 draw against Udinese.

It dominated from the start at Sampdoria and was 3-0 up by halftime following Sergej Milinković-Savić's early opener and a double from Immobile.

However, Milinković-Savić was also sent off in the 67th minute after two yellow cards in a matter of moments — the first for a foul and the second for something he said to the referee.

But Samp only managed to pull one back in the final minute through Manolo Gabbiadini.

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