What Rangnick wants to see at Anfield

Tuesday 19 April 2022 10:00

Ralf Rangnick is urging his Manchester United side to strike the ideal balance of compact defending and positive attacking play as the pursuit of a top-four place continues.

Tottenham Hotspur's surprise weekend defeat at home to Brighton, coupled with our hard-fought victory over Norwich City at Old Trafford, means United are now just three points off fourth-placed Spurs in the Premier League.

Rangnick's men face a tough trip to Anfield this evening, followed by further tests against fellow Champions League chasers Arsenal away on Saturday and then Chelsea next Thursday, after our home clash with them was brought forward due to their success in reaching the Emirates FA Cup final.

When we sat down with Ralf on Monday afternoon, he revealed what he wants to see from his players with three vital points at stake...

Ralf: Game balance is key Video

Ralf: Game balance is key

Rangnick says his side must be compact defensively and strong offensively at Anfield...

Firstly Ralf, it’s a quick turnaround after the Norwich game to Liverpool on Tuesday night – how is the squad looking?
“It’s the same squad we had against Norwich. All the injured players are unfortunately still injured so nobody [among] the five injured players will be available. So it will be, in general, the same squad we had available against Norwich.”

And Bruno Fernandes is doing okay after his car accident on Monday morning?
“Yes, he has been training with the team. Obviously it was good to hear that nobody got injured and it seems like there have been no bad effects after it and I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to play.”

Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard both featured against Norwich and made an impression – are you looking to everyone in the squad to make an impact between now and the end of the season?
“Yes, and after last weekend’s results we are still in the race for number four [place in the table]. I wouldn’t say we were in the pole position but we are still in the race. In order to stay there we need to win as many games as possible and we want to start that at Anfield, knowing that we are playing against one of the best teams in Europe and that we need to raise our level of performance. We are fully aware of that, we need the best possible balance of being as compact as we can be defensively, but still be able to create, not only transitional but also offensive moments.”

How important will these next two weeks be, with Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea to play in the next nine days after the Chelsea game was moved, and given how things have changed around in the league table?
“The fact that the Chelsea game was changed from the original fixture is something I didn’t think could happen, as normally in Germany the last two games of the season have to be played on the very same day and with the same kick-off time. Obviously it’s different here. For us it’s not good because we have a number of injured players so it would have been better for the Chelsea game to be played two weeks later when it was originally planned, but anyway we have to deal with it and hopefully by then we have two or three of those injured players available again.”

What’s going to be key going into a busy couple of weeks?
“We have to play at our very best possible level with those three games and we need to try to win as many of those games as possible, but we have to take it game by game. We know the importance of the Liverpool game, not only for us to stay in the race for [position] number four, but also for the fans knowing that the team lost the first fixture this season 5-0 at Old Trafford. We are fully aware about the importance of the game.”

What kind of test are you expecting at Anfield?
“They play as they always play. A lot of intensity with a lot of players involved when they create the chances with very aggressive counter-pressing. This is how they always play and we will be prepared for that, regarding the game plan. But in the end the question is how do we bring that onto the pitch, that’s what it’s all about. We need, as I said, the best possible performance that we can bring and we need to have the best possible balance defensively and offensively.”

How Matic showed emotion at full-time


Nemanja got a great reception at Old Trafford on Saturday after announcing that this season will be his last at United.

Cristiano Ronaldo was our matchwinner against Norwich but you must have been pleased with the pressing from Anthony Elanga for the first goal and winning the free-kick for the third. Is that kind of play exactly what we need at Anfield?
“This is what we need and this should happen more often, not only from him but we also need those moments from other players. This was a solo-pressing incident, he did that extremely well, but this is what has to happen more often.”

Have you got any stand-out memories of watching United v Liverpool games from the past when you’ve been following the Premier League?
“No, not really, but at the time I watched the game at home against Liverpool. We have to make sure that it will be a completely different performance. It’s not only about doing it for the fans, it’s about staying in the race for number four and that’s why it’s also important to get a result.”

Finally, Nemanja Matic has announced he’ll be leaving the club at the end of the season. How much have you enjoyed working with him and what’s stood out for you about him as a player and a person?
“I still enjoy working with him and in the last couple of weeks he has played quite a few games from the start or has come on as a sub. He’s a fantastic professional and a very, very nice, smart person. He’s a team player in the true sense of the word. I’m happy that I’ve been able to work with him so far and I’m looking forward to having him for the last six games and after that I wish him all the very best. I’m pretty sure it will not only be me saying that, but also all his team-mates and the staff members who have been working with him.”