Every word from Ralf's press conference

Friday 18 February 2022 13:30

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has fielded questions from journalists ahead of our Premier League match at Leeds United.

The Reds travel to Yorkshire on Sunday (14:00 GMT kick-off) to resume the historic rivalry with Leeds at Elland Road.

Rangnick spoke about the atmosphere and intensity of games between these two sides as well as offering a team news update.

The German coach also addressed speculation about the captaincy situation at the club, dismissing certain reports as "absolute nonsense".

Read every word from Rangnick below...

Part 1 of Ralf's press conference: Leeds away Video

Part 1 of Ralf's press conference: Leeds away

Watch part one of Ralf's press conference for the latest on our squad, club captaincy and Leeds away...

Good afternoon, Ralf. Would you be able to start off by giving us a team news and injury update, please?
"Well, as it seems, Edinson Cavani will still be out. He is still having some problems with his groin, and, on the other hand, also some with his stomach. The same is true with Tom Heaton. Apart from that, everybody else seems to be available."

You're playing Leeds and a lot is always made of the style and energy and tempo that they play with, particularly the last couple of seasons, how do you see the style you've tried to impose since coming in at United going up against them?
"Well, they are playing in a very special way, in two aspects. On the one-hand side, they are trying to play very fast transitional football, when they're in possession, give-and-go all the time, whenever they pass the ball to another player, they are trying to increase the tempo of the game. That's one thing. The other thing is they are very [man-to-]man-orientated. This is probably a team that plays with the highest amount of momentum and speed and tempo. For us, it's important not to allow them to play like that. On the other hand, they have conceded quite a few goals. Apart from Norwich, [they are] the team with the highest amount of conceded goals. I think we know we are well prepared for that game and we will try to prepare the team to play for 90-94 minutes and stick to the game-plan."

Hi Ralf, I'm sure you're aware of speculation about the captaincy between yourself, Cristiano [Ronaldo] and Harry Maguire, could you put us in the picture over whether those conversations have happened and is there going to be a change?
"Well, to start with, I must say that this is absolutely nonsense. I have never spoken with any player about a possible change of captaincy and Harry is fully aware of that and so is Cristiano, and all the other players. So this has never been an issue for me, it is me who decides the captain and, therefore, there is no reason to speak about that with any other person. Harry is our captain and will stay our captain until the end of the season and there is nothing else to add on to that."

Rangnick's team news bulletin


Our interim manager provides an update on his squad for the game at Leeds United.

Obviously, you've got a very important Champions League game in midweek, but because of the situation in the league table and the race for the top four, does this game on Sunday and the following game against Watford, do they become more important in your mind than that game in the Champions League?
"No. We play one after the other. Of course, we are fully aware that the game at Leeds is important for us in order to stay where we are right now in the table. We have to win that game and then, three days later, we have an important one at Atletico Madrid. We are in a competition where we would also like to proceed into the next round. Then again, three days later, we have another important one at home against Watford. We are taking one by the other, and therefore I'm grateful that we have more players back available again. Nemanja Matic was back in training today for the first time and he did quite well, so he might be available maybe even for Sunday against Leeds but definitely in the next two games. And then we will have to see. We will take it one by one, we will try to start each of those three games with a starting XI where we are convinced that we can win the next possible game."

Harry Maguire took to social media today to talk about the reports of division in the dressing room, Marcus Rashford earlier in the week, how frustrated are you by this constant narrative and is the only way to answer it by giving consistent results on the pitch?
"Well, I'm not frustrated at all because I know that it's not the truth. I told you already about Harry being captain, this is not an issue at all and it has never been an issue for us and for myself, as the manager. All the other things, to be honest, I don't listen to that noise that much because my full focus is on preparing the next training and for the next game. Obviously, I have heard about what is written, I can only tell you, from my personal experience, in the last 11-12 weeks, yes, there were players unhappy until the closure of the window because, as I always said, the squad was too big. We had too many players who just realised that they wouldn't get game-time. I think this has improved, for sure, and, from what I can tell you, the atmosphere in the locker room is better than it used to be a couple of weeks ago, for that reasons we just spoke about and, well, all the other things. As you quite rightly said, for us, it's about performing well, showing togetherness on the pitch, getting the best out of our performance and winning games. This is our job. Those are the things we can influence. All the other things, we have no influence upon."

Looing at our historic rivals, which is the most hostile away day?poll

Looing at our historic rivals, which is the most hostile away day?

Hello Ralf, you've said you and your players are prepared, are they prepared for the occasion and atmosphere and the animosity at Leeds? Which rivalries can you draw from in your own experiences in football?
"Well, to be honest, I didn't know that until a week ago, but most of my colleagues have already indicated that this is probably one of the biggest rivalries in the Premier League. Of course, I also had quite a few of those, we call them local derbies in Germany, with Schalke v Borussia Dortmund just to give you one example, and quite a few others. I think our team and our players have so much experience playing against teams like that in this atmosphere that it can also and will, hopefully, rise our performance and our level of performance to play in this environment. Last season, I think they played Leeds behind closed doors because of COVID restrictions and as far as I know, it's the first game in a full stadium since they last played in the Premier League. I don't know, this is probably 15-20 years ago. But, yes, it's great. I think everybody prefers to play in a sold-out stadium rather than in an empty stadium and, therefore, yeah, it's good. We are very much looking forward to that game."

Continuing the theme on the atmosphere, we've spoken about the mentality in the weeks gone by, that's mainly to do with the fact that they can't perform over 90 minutes, how key is it to be raring to go from the start?
"Very important. Against Brighton, we were struggling in the first half, we just [didn't] get hold of the ball to win the ball. We also have to admit that Brighton did extremely well. They are probably one of the best three teams in possession of the ball in the whole league. This only changed in the second half, when we took more of a risk, pressing them higher, trying to just win balls in their half, and this will be a similar game against Leeds United, although they have a different approach, they are playing a different style of football. For us, it's important to be on the front foot, be more proactive, similar to what we did against Brighton in the second half. But, again, it will be a different game, and so will be the next game on Wednesday against Atletico and then against Watford, and we have to take one game after the other, prepare the team in the best possible way so that we are able to win, if possible, all three games."