Manchester United were forced to recall Eric Bailly after a shaky defensive performance which leaves Ralf Rangnick scratching his head ahead of the January transfer window

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Ralf Rangnick reviews Newcastle draw

December has been a month of upheaval and uncertainty for Manchester United.

Ralf Rangnick took charge of his first game, a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace, following his appointment as interim manager before leading United to a 1-1 draw with Young Boys and a narrow win at Norwich.

In those fixtures, Rangnick appeared to have restored a sense of identity which had been missing under his predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with an unyielding 4-2-2-2 formation and emphasis on high pressing.

But the German’s hopes of further acclimatising the squad to his methods were thwarted by a coronavirus outbreak which led to the closure of their Carrington training ground and postponement of fixtures against Brentford and Brighton.

The Red Devils returned to action after 16 days of inactivity on Monday but could only muster a 1-1 draw at Newcastle, with the result perhaps a generous one given the visitors’ poor performance.

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Ralf Rangnick has decisions to make ahead of the January transfer window


Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, during the flurry of fixtures and postponements, there has been plenty going on behind the scenes as January approaches.

Rangnick’s principal aim in the winter transfer window is to sign a defensive midfielder to compete with Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic.

The No.6 berth has proved just as troublesome for Rangnick as it was for Solskjaer, with the Red Devils lacking a partnership to shield the defence and allow the forwards to excel.

But the worrying display at Newcastle and its aftermath have shown Rangnick he may also need to invest in a new centre-back.

Harry Maguire’s shaky form continued at St James’ Park and his partner, Raphael Varane, was at fault for Allan Saint-Maximin’s opener on his first start since 2 November.

While Rangnick threw his weight behind Varane in his press conference on Wednesday, he was clearly unimpressed by the defensive performance against the Magpies and has taken action.

Eric Bailly has returned to Manchester United after they activated an emergency recall



The interim boss has made the unprecedented decision to recall Eric Bailly from his Africa Cup of Nations preparations with Ivory Coast and the 27-year-old is in contention to face Burnley in the Premier League on Thursday.

With Victor Lindelof ruled out due to coronavirus, Rangnick only has a handful of options available at centre-back and none can claim to have had a strong, consistent run in the starting line-up this season.

Manchester United are reportedly targeting Barcelona centre-back Ronald Araujo

Therefore, it is no surprise to see United linked with Barcelona stalwart Ronald Araujo ahead of the January window, with a £30million price tag touted for the Uruguay international.

Rangnick is understood to have a £100million war chest at his disposal, so a central defender may follow a midfielder through the Old Trafford entrance to finally provide United with a stable platform on the pitch after a month of commotion off it.

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