Every word from Ralf's press conference
Ralf Rangnick fielded questions from journalists to preview Manchester United's Premier League match at Aston Villa on Saturday (17:30 GMT kick-off).
The interim manager once again explained his thought process behind finding the right balance and formation for this United team, and spoke about how his expectations of the Premier League have fared against reality.
Rangnick also offered insight on the situations of Dean Henderson and Donny van de Beek and provided a small team news update.
Read every word from the boss below...
Aston Villa v United: Rangnick's press conference
Watch Ralf's press conference for the latest on team news, Dean Henderson, Donny van de Beek and Aston Villa away...
Good afternoon, Ralf I'm just wondering, having played Villa on Monday, whether it makes it harder playing them so soon or do you go in with an advantage having won on Monday?
"Well, at least we know from experience what the challenge will be and how they are playing. We also know that we were able in a tough, a tight game, to beat them. Now it's about showing the best possible performance, bringing the best possible players and best performance on the pitch in order to win the game at Villa Park."
You've been here for six weeks now, what are your impressions on the Premier League, is it the toughest? Have you been surprised by anything?
"No, I wouldn't say it's surprised me, obviously having no winter break, at least that was what I had expected but since we had a couple of games called off due to COVID, we had a break. But in that break, we couldn't train unfortunately because we had to close Carrington for a couple of days. In general, it is as expected. What surprised me a little is the way the teams in the lower ranks of the league are again very physical, tactically very astute, playing in a very organised way. This is different. In this league, even against the bottom teams, it's never easy, the top teams can lose those games but in Germany, if Bayern Munich or the other top teams in the Bundesliga are playing the bottom teams, out of 10 games they will normally win 8 or 9."
Maguire, Sancho, Ronaldo and Jones missed Monday's game, will they be available tomorrow?
"I think they will be available, they only trained yesterday for the first time, Cristiano yesterday, Harry the day before yesterday. We have to wait for the final session this afternoon but as it seems right now, they should be available for tomorrow."
You said after the game on Monday that Dean Henderson missed out through illness but you also said that he had requested a loan move a couple of weeks back. What is the situation? Will he be staying at United this month?
"Well, I told him that I would like him to stay because he's a fantastic goalkeeper. In training yesterday, he had another couple of fantastic saves. I really like to have him on board, as one of three top goalkeepers. I can fully understand that he wants to play because he's in an age where, as a goalkeeper, he should regularly play. On the other hand, we are still in three competitions, we need the three goalkeepers we have right now. I told him that but I can also, on the other hand, understand his desire to get game-time elsewhere in the Premier League."
What's the latest on Donny van de Beek, I know you've spoken about his position, what's the latest on him and could he be allowed to leave this month, after all?
"I mean, it's the same situation as it is with Dean. I'm glad to have him in the squad, he came on in a last 15-20 minutes against Villa in the cup game and he did well. He's always performing on a high level in training. For him, I have a conversation two weeks ago after training exactly about that. I told him I would advise him to stay until the end of the season, and then, of course, with the World Cup coming up in winter, he wants to play in the World Cup for his country and Louis van Gaal obviously told him that in order to be a regular starter for the World Cup, he needs to regularly play for his team. I can understand his desire to play, on the other hand, we have a lot of competition in our squad in exactly those positions."
Quite a few times after games recently you've said you need to get the balance right between defence and offence, what work are you doing to achieve that? Do you feel the players you have are capable of having that balance?
"I mean, yes, I was fully aware that this cannot happen overnight. It's a work in progress. I think we have shown that we have conceded fewer goals than a couple of weeks ago but still, it's also about controlling the game. Obviously, we have taken a few steps, but things can still get better and that's what we have to work on, to find the best possible formation. Obviously, with now playing every three days, we have to make sure we not only the best but also the freshest players on the pitch. This means we might even be able to play formations during the game or from one game to the other. As I said, still work in progress, obviously still quite a few things and space for improvement."
What are those areas to improve specifically? Is it individuals, tactically, certain areas of the pitch?
"I mean if you want control or to dominate games, you can do it in two areas. One: how do you play if the other team is in possession of the ball, how proactive and aggressive can you be at the same time without being weak on the counter-attack. The other one is you can gain control when you are in possession of the ball. In both areas, I try to work and improve the team. As I said, we've taken a few steps but not as quickly as I would have hoped or wanted it to be. As coaches, you're normally never patient, you always want to develop teams quicker and faster. Now, in the last couple of weeks and in the future, it's all about results, getting the best possible results out of each game. This is true tomorrow, this will be true on Wednesday when we play Brentford, and it will be true three days later when we play West Ham. It's about getting the maximum points and the rest has to be developed at the same time."
Ralf, you've only lost one game at Manchester United. I think you'll agree that performances have not been as good as we all expected. Is that down to lack of confidence in the squad and is that what you've got to try and find?
"Well, as I said, in the first instance, it was about getting results, getting points and, of course, we were all disappointed about the home defeat against Wolves. If we'd won that game we'd be even more on track than we are now. But as I said, it is now is about getting results, especially in the league, collecting as many points as we possibly can. And yes again, it's about the balance. How offensive can we play, how many offensive players can we play, without conceding too many goals? And at the same time making sure we don't concede goals, at the same time be dangerous when we're in possession of the ball, either on the counter-attack, in transitional moments, or when we are in possession of the ball ourselves."