Read Rangnick's Q&A before Arsenal away
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has outlined the style of football fans can expect to see from our next permanent boss, Erik ten Hag.
Ralf said on Friday how he felt Erik was a 'good choice' to take the reins at Old Trafford from 2022/23, and he has highlighted the manner in which Ten Hag's Ajax play as showing the way forward for a club like United.
Also in his pre-match Q&A with club media's Stewart Gardner, the German voiced his concern at reports of threats made to captain Harry Maguire, before analysing Arsenal's forwards and talking about our end-of-season run-in.
Read the interview in full below...
Ralf, first of all, the club have announced Erik ten Hag is going to come in as the next manager. Is that an appointment that you believe fans should be positive and excited about?
“To start with, I think it’s good that we know who the new permanent manager will be. I haven’t met Erik in person but, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard from people who have worked with him – I know some people with whom I’ve worked very closely and very intensely with together – that he’s a very communicative, a very modern head coach. I think this is a very good choice, probably one of the best, if not the best, choice the club could make. Now it’s about him moulding his coaching staff, together with the club and the scouting department and the board, also to rebuild the squad and I’m pretty positive that, with a good pre-season and the help and assistance of all the people involved in the club, that we can change things for the better.”
When you have a look at his Ajax and the way they play, do you see similarities with his football philosophy and the philosophy that you’ve had over the years?
“He’s a coach who, in the earlier stages of his career, was still focused on possession. I think he still is, but, in the meantime, when I see Ajax play, with their counter-pressing and their progressive way to play out of possession of the ball, I think he has both aspects of the game involved. Being as aggressive as you can be against the ball but also being a possession-based team and I think this fits well into the way you should play with a club like Manchester United.”
Obviously, he’s got a lot to do, but do you think he can make a difference quite quickly with the structure and recruitment ins and outs?
“This depends, to start with, in the first instance, with the club and the way the team can be rebuilt. This is the most important part. It will be quite a few players because there are a few players whose contracts expire and some other players still on contract who maybe want to get some more game-time somewhere else. So I suppose there will be quite a few new players coming into the squad. To shape and to mould them together into a team: this is the most important job in pre-season. But, to start with, it’s important to think how does he want to play, what kind of players do we need in order to be competitive?”
As for your players right now, does the squad look a little bit stronger going into this weekend in terms of injuries?
“Yeah, we have three players available that were not available at Liverpool. Cristiano is back in training again, Rapha Varane is back in training again and so is Scott McTominay. Those three are available but, on the other hand, Paul Pogba will probably be injured for the rest of the season.”
The likes of Shaw, Cavani and Fred, will they play this season?
“Luke Shaw, probably not, with his bolts and screws being removed from his leg I don’t see him coming back in the next four weeks. Fred, we don’t know. Hopefully he will be an option for the game against Chelsea, but tomorrow no. And Edinson Cavani is training with our physios and coaches but as yet he hasn’t been able to train with the team.”
Obviously football is a passionate game and passions run high, but when you see the type of thing that’s happened to Harry Maguire, does that make your heart sink really?
“Yeah, it’s another terrible sign of the crazy environment and society in which we’re living. I feel very sorry obviously for Harry. This has also happened in other clubs and other areas of our society but obviously it should not happen, it’s terrible. I haven’t been able to speak with him but I’ll speak with him right now after the press conference.”
As for the game itself, Arsenal had an excellent win in midweek against Chelsea. What do you make of what we might face in London?
“Well they have an extremely young and hungry team. They’re very technical, a lot of fast and technical players up front who try to press and counter-press pretty high. This makes them dangerous. We have to be aware of that and be prepared for that. This has also changed since the first encounter that we had with them. On the other hand, they still concede quite a few goals but, for us, it’s about the balance. We need to get back to the basics and be aggressive ourselves: on the front foot and challenge them at their back. But, at the same time, we need to be aware of their offensive weapons that they have.”
When I speak to you before a game, I always seem to say it’s a must-win game but do you think this really is a must-win game in terms of our hopes of top-four?
“I wouldn’t say this is a must-win game, bearing in mind how we played in the last two away games at Everton and Liverpool, but we want to win that game. This is why we travel there and what we owe to our supporters and ourselves. We know that this was not going to be easy but, if we raise our level and play as we’ve played in quite a few away games before that, I still believe we have a chance to get three points there. In order to do that, we have to play far better than we did in the last two away games.”
You mentioned owing it to the fans and obviously it was a tough night for them on Tuesday. Do you think we do owe a performance to them?
“Yeah, we owe it to the fans in the stadium but we also owe it to the fans worldwide. But we also owe it to ourselves. We definitely have to raise the level of performance in all aspects of the game and I’m pretty sure we can and will do that tomorrow.”
Finally Ralf, you’ve got Chelsea on Thursday and then I think [Brentford on] Monday and there’s a long break in May [after the Brighton game]. Is it a slightly weird end to the season with that big break in the middle of it?
“We have those breaks already twice, since January. This is very unusual, I’ve never experienced that before. But like I said, the focus is on tomorrow and then Chelsea, and then Brentford at home and then Brighton away. Between Brighton and Crystal Palace, to have another two weeks is unusual because, in Germany, the last two fixtures of the season all teams have to play on the same day and at the same kick-off time, so to me this is a very unusual situation. But, right now, we have another four games ahead of us in the next two weeks.”