Every word from Ralf's press conference

Friday 11 February 2022 13:58

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick fielded questions from journalists ahead of our Premier League match against Southampton.

Rangnick outlined his thoughts on several key issues ahead of the Saturday lunchtime (12:30 GMT) kick-off at Old Trafford.

The German coach was asked about his former colleague and Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl and the threat his side carry from set pieces, and went into detail about the lessons to be learned from United's last two games.

The Reds dominated proceedings against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and Burnley in the Premier League, but drew both matches 1-1, losing the former on penalties. Rangnick explained the reasons behind those draws and what he needs to see change in the coming weeks. He also addressed queries over Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire.

Here's every word from the press conference...

Part 1 of Ralf's press conference: United v Saints Video

Part 1 of Ralf's press conference: United v Saints

Watch the first half of Ralf's press conference with journalists, to preview Saturday's match with Southampton...

Good afternoon Ralf, how are you and the team feeling ahead of this one given the excellent first-half performance in midweek and Southampton coming into this full of confidence?
"Yes, we are fully aware that this will be a difficult one. Obviously, I watched the game at Spurs during the week and they really deserved to win, they tactically played on a very high level and this will be a challenge for us, but I'm sure that we're up for that challenge. We will prepare the team again today for what is on and what we have to do for tomorrow's game. We have to win the game, that's for sure. We are fully aware that we did well both first halves against Middlesbrough and Burnley but now against Southampton, and the same will be true on Tuesday against Brighton, we need top performances for the whole game."

You know Ralph Hasenhutl very well, but would you say he's one of the best coaches on the continent, the job that he's done with Southampton but also with yourself at RB Leipzig?
"Well, I've known him now for six or seven years and that he has developed in those years is obvious. We can see what he did with Southampton, he also did a great job at Leipzig, finishing second in the first season of the Bundesliga and sixth in the second year and what he has now achieved with Southampton is just great. An excellent, excellent coach. I know his assistant coach Richard Kitzbichler very well. I met him in 2012 at Salzburg and when Ralph was looking for a new head media analyst and assistant coach, he contacted me at the time and asked me about Richard Kitzbichler. They've been working together now for two or three years, doing a great job both of them but that doesn't help, we need the three points tomorrow! This is what it's all about."

Hi Ralf, just on Tuesday's performance, have you worked out how to get the best out of Ronaldo, he just seems to be in a period where he's not affecting games in the way he or you would want?
"Yeah, but it's not only about Cristiano Ronaldo. That he should score more goals is obvious. I think we're creating enough chances and opportunities in the last couple of games, but we just didn't score enough goals, but this is not only just an issue with Cristiano, it's also an issue with all the other players, especially the offensive players, that we do not score enough goals if you bear in mind how many chances we create. This is also something that needs to get better in the next couple of weeks. But, as I say, what we played in the first half and even at Burnley, I would say in 70 of those 90 minutes, was very, very close to the game plan that we have spoken about before the game and now it's about rewarding ourselves and getting all the results that we should have deserved."

Training highlights: New kit, same focus Video

Training highlights: New kit, same focus

See how the Reds trained at Carrington on Thursday, in preparation for this weekend's big game against Southampton...

Hi Ralf, just wondering how the squad's looking in terms of absentees and also there's been a lot of talk about Harry Maguire and his performance, what do you think of the displays of your captain?
"Well, I think he had an outstanding game against West Ham, like all the rest of our backline. Against Middlesbrough, we didn't give away that many chances to the other team and at Burnley, yes, we could have defended that transitional moment better than we did but, in the end, it was a negative chain reaction like in most goals that teams conceded. We had a brilliant counterattack ourselves, the first pass was not the best one but even then, it was still a 2v2 or 3v3 situation and we should have got more out of that. And then our [the] rest [of our] defence was not really good, we should not have allowed this counterattack to happen, we were not marking or connecting players well enough and high enough. And also we didn't transition at the end so when they got the ball, we were 2v1, with Harry and Scotty against him, and of course, we shouldn't have allowed him to go through in that very moment, but, yeah, that can happen. As I said, Harry was injured, he had two and a half weeks out with injury, then he came back, had a very good game against West Ham and I'm pretty sure he can perform at the same kind of level against Southampton."

There are reports that the players aren't enjoying your training sessions, that they found them outdated, that they're calling Chris Armas Ted Lasso behind his back, what do you make of all of that?
"Nothing, to be honest. I haven't read any newspapers and don't know about those articles. What I can assure you, the way that the team has developed in the last couple of weeks is obvious, tactically, and this is due to the work that we're doing in training, both on the pitch but also if we do the video analysis with them. The training that we're doing including all the important training games and the little games as well as the 11v11 games, a lot of rondos, a lot of those little games to increase fluidity and get better in possession of the ball. It's part of the training session."

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How can you get your team to play in the second half like in the first? Is that something to work on on the training ground or your half-time message or part of your larger game plan?
"Well, to start with I think it's important and also the players have realised that there has been a good development in the last couple of weeks, both in possession and out of possession of the ball. They realise that we controlled the game but then again, if we concede a goal, against Middlesbrough it was after 65-70 minutes, at Burnley after 47 minutes, we should just stick to the game plan, not all of a sudden lose shape, lose composure. This was the most harmful part of it that we just didn't stick to that gameplan, all of a sudden, we didn't have the same positioning on the pitch, our two 8s were too far outside, no longer in the centre of the pitch, I think this is what we spoke about yesterday and the day before when we analysed the Burnley game. This is what we have to do better. Hopefully, if we have in the upcoming games the same amount of opportunities, we score more than one goal, this is one issue, that we have to be more effective. But at the same time, even if that does not happen and the other team scores a goal - that can happen in football - we still have to be aware [of] why we were so dominant and why we were so much in control of the game in the first half. And then stick to that, not all of a sudden lose structure, lose shape. This was was obvious for some 15-20 minutes against Burnley, it got better then at the end of the game and we had more control but in those 15 minutes we lost that shape."

Hi Ralf, you've now been in charge for 12 games, has it taken longer for the squad to adapt to the way you want to play than you thought?
"No. I was fully aware that this will be a process and it would take some time. But, as I said, apart from the last two games, with regard to the result of those two games, I think we did well. The development is obvious, even in those two games. Had anyone told me before the game, showed me the first two halves, would you have thought that you could create that many chances in possession of the ball, I would have said no. I would be more than happy if those chances were as they were. Now it's about developing, taking the next step, and playing on that kind of level for a longer time, if possible for the whole game. As I said, in football it's about getting the reward, getting the best result out of it. And, in fact, in those two games, this is the only thing I could fault the team for."

Hi Ralf, returning to Southampton. Manchester United's issues with set pieces is well-documented, both attacking and defending, do you think that could be key to the game tomorrow with James Ward-Prowse one of the best set-piece takers in the country?
"Yes, obviously, but we haven't conceded that many goals, as far as I know, in the last 10 weeks, we've not conceded a single goal from set-pieces. I thought we had scored one from a set-piece at Burnley but unfortunately, it was disallowed by the VAR. Of course, we are also working on that and hopefully, we can score ourselves from set-pieces. But when you mention Ward-Prowse, I think you're referring to not conceding any goals, and the way that we have defended set-pieces in the last weeks and months has been good."

You say you're making progress but you've only won half of the games you've been here for. Given the spend on this squad, are you surprised you've had to do so much to make the team competitive? You seem to be coming from quite a low base?
"That's a good question and you have put that question in a very smart and clever way. I know what you're aiming at but I can only tell you what I've experienced in the last 10 weeks and I think the results so far in the league have been okay. I would even say they were good had we won at Burnley. And now it's about, as I said, getting also the results, not only improving with regards to the performance but also getting the results that we should have deserved. I think we all agree that we should have deserved to win both games but, in the end, it's not about deserving, it's about what you get and what you get out of the game. That the team has developed is obvious. I speak regularly to the players about how they feel after the game and how they felt on the pitch, and I know that the players realise how much they have developed and improved their performance, especially in possession of the ball when they control the game. As I said, now it's about taking the next step and getting the reward and also controlling at a higher level in the second half."