Every word from Ralf's press conference
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick fielded questions from journalists ahead of the club's Premier League fixture against Norwich City on Saturday 16 April (15:00 GMT).
The German coach talked about performances since his December arrival, injuries, team news, speculation around who the club's next manager will be and fan protests.
Read every word below...
"I mean we all know that football is a game of passion and emotions, and I think we can all understand, [and] I can understand, that our supporters are being disappointed both about where we stand in the table but also about a performance, for example, that we showed against Everton, at least after we had conceded that first goal. But I still believe that our supporters are one of the best, if not the best in England, and as long as they do that protest in a peaceful way and as long as they still support the team in the stadium, I think they have the right to express their opinion and, as I said, emotionally, I can understand that they are being disappointed."
In terms of the overall results since you've been here and performances, are you disappointed, shocked... how do you feel that you've not been able to trigger the improvement most people expected when you came?
"Well, I think we did. I mean, we had moments and situations in games and spells where we played well, where we showed that there is... that, yeah, the team would be able to play on a higher level. If I just think about games that we played against Crystal Palace, the first game, against West Ham, against Tottenham, away at Leeds, until the 70th minute away at Aston Villa. I think we had quite a few games where we really played well, not only with regard to the result but also the way that we played together as a team, but what we couldn't do is do it in a sustainable way and over a longer period of time and yes, I'm disappointed about that, I would have thought that we would be able to play sustainably on a higher level. I'm not happy with that myself but this is what we will try to do in the rest of the season."
Ralf, obviously in the background, we're still to see exactly what will happen. Erik ten Hag has been asked about it, and says he still has to concentrate on Ajax, what do you know about this? When can we expect an announcement because it looks like a done deal now?
"I don't know if it's a done deal and my reply is the same as Erik ten Hag's reply was, my focus is on the game tomorrow against Norwich and preparing the team in order to be able to play on a higher level and win the game."
Can we talk on a general level, what qualities do you see in someone like Erik ten Hag. What qualities would he bring to be able to bring success to a club like Manchester United?
"Again, it doesn't make sense. We all know that he's a good manager and that he's done a good job at Ajax and also in former clubs but right now it doesn't make sense if I tell you what I think about any other coach."
Do you have to take it game by game now, Ralf? Is that the focus?
"Yes, of course. I mean in football in general, this is what it's all about, but even more so in our situation. It doesn't make sense to speculate how other teams will play, or whether they will drop points or not. As long as we don't win our own games, the other results will never be in our favour, so our focus is on tomorrow and, in front of again 75,000, play on the high level and win the three points."
Ralf, you said a moment ago about being unable to sustain a higher level throughout your time here. Do you know the reason why you think you haven't been able to sustain that?
"Well, I can imagine what reasons are, and of course, without using that as an excuse or as an alibi, we have lost a few players. Since the West Ham game, for example, we lost three of our strikers who were all part of that game and also part of that last-second goal that we scored. And right now, we are missing quite a few other players, with Fred and Scott McTominay, our two defensive midfielders, so this is also probably one of the reasons but in total it's also that we are not, as I said, sustainably playing on the highest possible level, I think we reduced the amount of goals that we conceded. In the last couple of games, we were struggling to score goals ourselves. But this was not always the case. Against Tottenham, for example, we scored three goals. In other games we have scored two or three goals. It's about still finding the best possible balance between what is necessary as a team to defend our own goal and our own box. The way that we defended the goal against Everton I was not happy at all, not only because of that unforced error in midfield that was not the best possible ball that we played from Fred to Nemanja Matic and Nema could have defended the ball in a better way but even after that, there were 12-15 almost seconds that we could have defended that in a much better way. We don't do that, and this is also one of the problems that we're having, that we're not keeping a clean sheet in a game like this. I'm 100% convinced that if we scored the first goal in this game, it would have been a different game and we probably would have won the game."
Has motivation been an issue of late, the last two performances in particular?
"Again, it shouldn't be a problem at a club like Manchester United. The players who play for Manchester United should always have an eternal level of motivation, but, yes, if I look at the Everton game, until that first deflected shot on our goal we were in control of the game. I'm not saying that we played extremely well but we controlled the game, from the sideline, I always had the feeling that they felt shaky. At that time had we scored ourselves it would have been different, but we didn't. With the first shot on goal, we conceded the goal ourselves and from then on it changed the atmosphere in the stadium, and it also changed our own energy level in our team and this should not happen. Even if you concede a goal, a deflected shot, in football, and that can happen, we should still be aware that we are the better team and we can dominate the game, but it wasn't the case, it's got to do probably with confidence, whatever, you may call it motivation, but it's definitely affected our level of confidence at that point."
Ralf, you mentioned that Fred and Scott are missing. Can you give us a full update?
"Five players will still be missing for tomorrow, and probably some of them also for the upcoming games. You already mentioned Fred and Scott. Rapha Varane, Luke Shaw had his bolts and metal stuff removed from his leg and Edinson Cavani, those are the five that will be missing."
Did that operation go smoothly, there’s been suggestions he could be out for longer?
"Yeah, as it seems, he will be out for at least another four weeks, if not five weeks, so I think for him it will be difficult to be available for one of the outstanding remaining seven games."