Rangnick: I want to see offensive football

Saturday 11 December 2021 10:00

Ralf Rangnick says Manchester United will be prepared for a serious challenge when we head to Norwich this weekend.

New Canaries boss Dean Smith has instigated a turnaround in the East Anglian club's fortunes since replacing Daniel Farke last month, though his new team still remain rooted to the foot of the Premier League table.
 
United are undefeated in five games across all competitions too – and two under interim boss Rangnick, who was encouraged by the team's performance in last weekend's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. But the German told us he wants to see much more from his charges at Carrow Road, after a solid week of training.

Ralf spoke with club media's Stewart Gardner at Carrington to tell us more, including how he wants to see a greater amount of forward passing from the Reds, and why the Academy is so important to our future...
Ralf, first of all, I know you haven't seen the players yet as training is later on, but in terms of the longer-term injuries – Cavani and Varane and Martial - are you still hopeful that they'll be able to play a part in the busy fixtures this month?
“Yes, very much so. For tomorrow's game, the only possible candidate might be Edi. But we have to wait and see. He was training with the team yesterday and the couple of days before that, so we have to wait and see how he feels today. For Rapha, the game comes too early. He was out for a couple of weeks and we need to make sure he stays fully fit for the next couple of months, until the end of the season. So we don't want to rush him too much. But I'm very positive that, in the next couple of weeks, he will be available. With Anthony, we have to wait and see. It's a question of pain: how tolerable the pain will be on his knee but, for tomorrow, he will not be one of the players who is available.”
Many players have had more training time this week, because they didn't have to play in the Champions League in midweek. How useful has that been? Has that been good in terms of getting used to your style?
“Yeah, for me it was about giving them the chance to show themselves, to present themselves, [to] get game time obviously. Some of them hadn't played for a long time. And at the same time, rest the players that have played against Crystal Palace, train with them in a normal week, although we had to make some use of players from the Under-23s and the Under-19s, which was also a little bit difficult because they had the Youth League game on Wednesday as well. But still, I think it was good to do that, for both the players who could play against Young Boys, but also for the players who played against Crystal Palace.”
 
It was obviously a great night for quite a few Academy players in midweek. How important is the Academy? And is it something that you will have time to have a look at as well as your busy first-team work?
“Yes, I will try to watch as many games as I possibly can. I think next Friday there is a big game of the Under-23s against Chelsea, so we have already spoken about that - that I will try to watch that game and maybe two or three of our players will also be able to get game time again there in that game. Yeah, the academies are highly important – even more so in England. If you look at the number of players that have developed in the last 10 years, England is probably in the top two or three in Europe at developing young, top, talented players. We have three of them [English products] in our own first team, with Jadon, with Mason and with Marcus, and we need to make sure that in the future we have, every year, every other year, one or two if not three of those players being good enough to perform and to play on our level.”
You've spoken, Ralf, about getting players to make more progressive passes, more forward passes. Is it a case of instilling confidence to make players bolder in their passing in a game?
“It's not so much the question of quality of passing. I mean, even in the first one or two training sessions I realised that the players are able and willing to play sharp, low, hard passes between them, and that they are technically able. This really stuck out in the first couple of training sessions, when I compared that with teams in Germany – that they can do that on a high level. It's more the question of where and when do they play the ball forward. For me, it's still too much of playing square and playing backwards. To me, it's to implement the way of playing vertical whenever possible, and I think we have the players up front. We have fast players up front to whom we can play the ball, with Cristiano and with Marcus and therefore we need to change a little bit the mindset. It's not so much the technical abilities to play the ball; it's more the way that they are being used to playing so far. And this is something that I will try to change.”
Norwich have improved under Dean Smith, their new manager. Even though they are bottom of the table, do you still expect them to provide a big challenge on Saturday?
“Definitely. You just need to look at what Dean has achieved at Aston Villa. He won promotion in 2018/19, staying up in 2019/20, and they achieved 11th place in 2020/21. The way he did it, he was the one who was responsible. And even in those four games he has been responsible for Norwich so far, with two draws, one win and one defeat, they showed that they play more vertical football, more direct football. It will be a challenge, but we are prepared for that and we want to build up, as I said, on the performance against Crystal Palace, and we will try and work hard and fight hard, but also play offensive football in order to get the three points.”
 
Finally, you've seen obviously the Manchester United fans at Old Trafford. But they travel in their thousands to away games. This will be your first one. Are you looking forward to seeing that sort of support from the hardcore support on the road?
“Obviously. It helps the players a lot. It's like the wind for a sailing boat. It will help us to play on the highest possible level, and therefore I'm very much looking forward to that. If I look at the current situation in at least parts of Germany, where they have to play behind closed doors again, I am well aware that we have the chance to play in front of so loud stadiums.”

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