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Baffling Man United leave more questions than answers despite thrashing Brentford in the end

LONDON — Manchester United remains a baffling team to watch. Despite the confusion and disjointed play on Wednesday, United came away with some impressive individual performances that led to three quality goals against a well-drilled Brentford side.

United’s 3-1 win was some fun football to watch and still, it had its positive takeaways, which may hold a wider significance further down the line: the well-taken Anthony Elanga goal, Marcus Rashford breaking his goal drought, the growing influence of Fred in Ralf Rangnick’s midfield, and the proof they can win a game without Cristiano Ronaldo scoring. But still, there are so many questions hovering over this team.

These were important three points for Rangnick, after a stop-start beginning to his time in charge of Man United. He deployed a 4-3-3 after abandoning his preferred 4-2-2-2, but it finished with his squad playing three at the back as they held off a late Brentford fightback. The fact Ivan Toney’s goal came from a corner will not have escaped Rangnick’s attention. He will probably take note of the fact that United again failed to remotely trouble Brentford with their own set-pieces.

Then there’s Ronaldo, who did more to earn attention along the sideline than on the field. Having missed their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday, Ronaldo was replaced after 71 minutes here at Brentford and looked disappointed, to say the least. He was seen by the television cameras simmering on the steps near the Man United bench after having lost a wrestle with his coat, which was promptly thrown to the ground. While United celebrated their third goal through Rashford, Rangnick was seen deep in discussion with Ronaldo, explaining the decision to replace him.