Rangnick's press conference: part two
Ralf Rangnick was asked about Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, his new coaching staff and, after a fortnight without a game, the physical condition of his squad when he held a press conference on Thursday afternoon to preview Monday's Premier League trip to Newcastle United.
Jurgen Klopp said this week that he wouldn’t sign an unvaccinated player. Where do you stand on this issue and how many of your squad are double vaccinated?
“Yeah I think it could be a consideration and I fully understand what Jurgen said. But it also depends on if you want to sign a player who risks not being available. This is an issue that clubs seriously have to think about. If you sign a player knowing from the very first day that he has not been vaccinated, you have to be aware that he can or might not be available, not only for 10 days but this could happen regularly in COVID times and you have that example with Joshua Kimmich who was extremely hesitant at the beginning. I think in the meantime he has realised it might be a good idea to get vaccinated. He got COVID, he still has some problems with his lungs, so hopefully he will back after Christmas in the new year at full strength and can play again for Bayern Munich. But I think this is an issue where everybody can and should have his freewill but I think in football, especially at this kind of level that we are playing at, we need to try and convince our players to get vaccinated. To be honest, I don’t know which of our players have had two or three vaccinations. This is a question that only our medical department could answer. But I know from our medical department that the ratio of vaccinated players is about the average of the Premier League.”
“Yes, currently those are the regulations, this is the case and as I said, it could happen not only once, it could happen several times in the future and therefore it should also be in the interests of the players to be vaccinated. But as I said, in the end, it’s a decision that each club has to take for themselves and find the best possible solution.”
I was just wondering how the recent postponements and closure of Carrington have affected your ability to get your ideas across to the players. You spoke about training the players in the brain and getting them to play your style. How much has that affected your ability to do that?
“Well obviously during those four days we couldn’t do it. I spoke with most of our players who are either in isolation or positively tested, so I spoke with 16 or 17 players individually over the phone just to hear how they are and how they’re feeling. We did a lot of work in between together with my coaching staff who prepared some video footage and we have started to show this video footage to them on Tuesday, yesterday and also today (Thursday), and we will follow up on that tomorrow and on Sunday because it’s important that they really know what it is about and how we should play, to find the best possible balance of playing offensively and make use of the offensive players we have but at the same time be able to defend as a team and make sure that we get further clean sheets in the future.”
“Yes, we spoke yesterday at length and he explained to me that he has been with Manchester United now for the last seven years and he feels that it might be the right time now for a change, to go somewhere else. I know this is in a way understandable and I could follow his thoughts but on the other hand it’s also important to see the situation of the club. We have COVID times, we have three competitions in which we still have high ambitions and want to be as successful as we can be. And I told him, it [a move] should not only be in the interest of the player, it should also be in the interest of the club. So far as far as I know, there has been no offer from any other club. And as long as this is the case, he will stay.”
You also said you were going to have a face-to-face chat with Paul Pogba when he came back from Dubai. During those talks, did he give you any indication of what his intentions are? And also, can I ask, you’ve brought in three members of staff so far in Chris, Ewan and Sascha. Are they under contract until the end of the season in keeping with your spell as interim manager, or will they stay on at the club after that?
“To answer the second question first, yes, their contracts are like mine, running until the end of the season. But this does not necessarily mean that they will not be able to stay beyond that stage with the club. It also depends on what will happen in the summer, so nobody can answer that question right now. I have worked with all three of them in the past, so I know how good they are. But again, this is a question that needs to be answered in April or May. First question, yes, of course I have spoken to Paul. On the day he came back from Dubai, we spoke in person. We also spoke over the phone when he was still in Dubai. Right now, it’s about him getting fit again, getting training fit, not to say match fit. I think this will take, as far as I know, another couple of weeks and until then my full focus is on the players who are available and with whom I can play the next upcoming games.”
“Well physically they look good. We had a very intense training session yesterday [Wednesday], the energy level was high, all the players were fully engaged and everybody was on board. It was a very intense training session so I am not worried about the physical state the team are in. They seem to be extremely fit but of course it's also important that for each game we have all the players not only available but in the best possible physical state and it could also happen that we rotate from one game to the other, especially if we play every three days. But right now, we have all the players available apart from Paul Pogba and it will not be so easy to decide, not only on the first eleven, but also on the players sitting on the bench."