By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Ralf Rangnick loved the Old Trafford atmosphere, Manchester United’s defensive display and super-sub Marcus Rashford’s impact in the stoppage-time win against West Ham.
The top-four rivals looked set to play out a drab goalless draw on Saturday afternoon as former United boss David Moyes’ well-drilled side produced a solid performance at Old Trafford.
West Ham had already won there this season in the Carabao Cup but this time United emerged victorious as Rangnick threw caution to the wind, bringing on Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani and Rashford.
All three were involved in the third and final minute of stoppage time, with the latter turning home in front of the Stretford End to seal a 1-0 win that rocked Old Trafford to its foundations.
“If I look at the shots on goal and the chances during the game, I think we deserved a 1-0 win,” Rangnick said.
“For me, it was clear from the very beginning it would take some patience against a well-organised team like West Ham. It was not always easy for us to find the best possible solutions in the final third.
“Defensively I think it was probably the best performance in the last eight weeks, the way that we were always trying to win balls back, our counter-pressing.
“The physicality of the game was really outstanding and we know we still have to improve with possession of the ball.”
Asked if Fergie time is now Ralfie time, he smiled and said: “I don’t know how long Fergie time was. Was that the last five minutes? How long? I wouldn’t mind if that happened!
Fergieee timeeeee 💪🏾♥️ pic.twitter.com/bM3HRIkPa0
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) January 22, 2022
“But, again, of course we would also like to have more games like Brentford at the end when we were 3-0 up.
“But if you score with the last seconds of the game, the big advantage is there is no time for the team to reply and that was a good one about the goal.”
The late goal meant Rangnick oversaw back-to-back wins for the first time in charge, with United usurping West Ham in fourth.
“I also enjoyed the other wins, also the win at Brentford, which was as important as the win today, but this was an extremely emotional game,” he said.
“An extremely emotional moment if you score in the last second of the game, knowing that there is no time anymore for the other team to reply.
“It was extremely emotional, I can only say thank you to the red army. The way that they supported the team all through the game – they pushed us and carried us through the game. It was amazing.
“Since I have arrived, in home games it was by far the best atmosphere in the stadium.”
The winner was also special for Rashford, who responded to recent criticism of his poor displays with goals against Brentford and West Ham.
“He’s one of the top strikers in England,” the interim boss said. “He’s an English international, who regularly played in the Euros and we all know what quality he has.
— Diogo Dalot (@DalotDiogo) January 22, 2022
“He has almost everything a modern striker needs. He’s got the pace, skills, he’s got the size and physicality of a striker and in the end it’s all about confidence for strikers.
“I’m pretty sure that those two goals have raised the level of confidence within Marcus but now it’s about taking steps, to show that on a regular basis.
“It’s about continuity now and I think he can play a very important role for the rest of the season for us.”
As for West Ham counterpart Moyes, his frustration came across clearly in a short response to the first question of the press conference.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) January 22, 2022
“P***** off with that result, that’s for sure,” he said.
It was a missed opportunity for the Hammers, who only made one substitution and came close to snatching a winner before the hosts did.
“You have to know how to see games out,” Moyes said.
“Let’s be fair, people who watch West Ham regularly will see that we’ve had games where it has been a problem.
“We’ve been winning games 3-0 and it’s ended up 3-2, or had games like that, so it’s something that we need to do much better.”