It was a fairytale first victory for Ralf Rangnick at Old Trafford as Manchester United snuck past a defensively compact Crystal Palace 1-0.
In a game filled with much hype and anticipation, the Red Devils were the brighter of the two sides, exploding out of the blocks with a new-look counter-pressing style in a 4-2-2-2 formation, going after their opposition high and winning possession back early.
Chances were in fairly short supply, however, as half opportunities for Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes went begging as Alex Telles hit the top of the crossbar with a fizzed free-kick just shy of midway through the second half.
United struggled in the second half to break down the organisation of the Palace defence as Patrick Vieira’s men held firm, but Rangnick had the last laugh: Fred, a divisive name throughout the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer regime, was trusted in the engine room by the new manager, and the Brazilian curled a right-footed effort into the top corner on 77 minutes to send the home fans into raptures and devastate Vieira, who would have felt that his side’s defensive resilience had been deserving of an unlikely point.
Not quite the perfect performance, but the ideal start for the new man in the hot seat, as United march on to an enticing run of fixtures where Rangnick can really get his teeth into his new side.