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Rangnick aims to improve Manchester United’s defensive ‘balance’

By AFP
03 December 2021   |   11:49 am
Ralf Rangnick said Friday he wanted to "balance" Manchester United by strengthening the club's leaky defence.

Manchester United German Interim head coach Ralf Rangnick watches from his seat during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 2, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) /

Ralf Rangnick said Friday he wanted to “balance” Manchester United by strengthening the club’s leaky defence.

The 63-year-old German’s first press conference since being appointed interim manager until the end of the season following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came after United’s see-saw 3-2 win over Arsenal in the Premier League on Thursday overseen by caretaker boss Michael Carrick.

Solskjaer was dismissed following a humiliating 4-1 defeat at lowly Watford, with United having already lost 5-0 at home to arch-rivals Liverpool in October — another sign of how far the once dominant club in English football had fallen.

“We are talking about six-and-a-half months, one third of the games, and we have agreed on a two-year advisory deal. If Manchester United contacts you for such a role you cannot turn it down,” said Rangnick.

“This is one of the biggest clubs, if not the biggest club, in the world. I am excited to work with the players we have here,” he added.

“I am well acquainted. It’s pretty obvious the team has an abundance of young, talented players and experienced players. The major target for me is to bring more balance into the team.

“Even yesterday (Thursday) we conceded two and needed three to win. We concede on average two a game and this is too much.

“I want to bring more balance and more control. Yesterday’s game, for me as the future coach, they are not the games you need. I will try and bring these outstanding, talented players away from their own goal.”

Rangnick’s deal is set to see him move into a consultancy role at Old Trafford after the end of the current campaign.

As for the possibility he might replace Solskjaer on a permanent basis, Rangnick said: “If we do well and we stabilise, I might even recommend that we keep working with me. This is all hypothetical, we cannot speak about that.”

Rangnick added he had tried to persuade former United midfielder Carrick, who announced his departure from the club after Thursday’s victory, which left them 10 points adrift of the top three, to stay at Old Trafford.

“I had a conversation with Michael for more than an hour and tried to convince him, but he needed a break and I understand his decision,” he said.

‘Adapt to players available’
There have been suggestions that the way star Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo plays is not suited to Rangnick’s approach to football.

But Rangnick, having seen Ronaldo score twice for United on Thursday to take his career tally in club and international football beyond 800 goals, said: “You always have to adapt to the players you have available.

“I have never seen anyone as fit at 36. But it’s not just about him (Ronaldo), it’s about developing the squad as a whole,” he explained.

Rangnick’s first game in charge will be a league match at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday, with the new manager enthused by the “potential” shown during the win over Arsenal.

Manchester United have not won the Premier League since 2012/13, when they took the title in the final season of legendary manager Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden 27-year reign at Old Trafford.

David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer have all since been hired and fired as United’s full-time manager.

“It’s not unusual that after a long successful spell, the club needs to find a new path,” Rangnick said.

“The club has had no continuity in signing new players and sticking to the club’s DNA. In the future the board members and myself have the same opinion. It’s important not to have many changes in management.”

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