Ralf Rangnick.

Rangnick: This is what we are about

Saturday 15 January 2022 10:00

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has brought us up to speed ahead of the teatime clash at Aston Villa.

The boss discussed a host of matters with club media's Mark Sullivan and provided the latest on the team news front and an assessment of the same opponents we faced in Monday night's Emirates FA Cup third-round tie.

Ralf also confirmed one starter at Villa Park, Alex Telles, and talked about the fight for places in the full-back slots, while also covering Marcus Rashford, the 'winning team' pictures from training and his hopes for seeing more of the youth players at United...

Ralf ready for Villa challenge Video

Ralf ready for Villa challenge

Our interim boss talks Aston Villa, full-backs, Rashford and the youth team ahead of the big game...

How has your week been in preparation for the trip to Aston Villa?
“Yes, it was good. We had a day off the day after the game on Tuesday and then Wednesday, Thursday, today: three training sessions in order to prepare for the game. The weather has been nice. Quite unusual for this time of the year, so we’ve had two good training sessions and another one to come in an hour’s time.”

What’s your team news in terms of fitness and the squad as a whole?
“We are missing out Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw because of their suspensions for the fifth yellow card. On the other hand, Harry seems to be back. He trained with the team in the last three training sessions. Cristiano returned for training yesterday so they should both be available for the Villa game tomorrow. The same is true with Phil Jones. He was training again yesterday so those three should be available again.”

What did you learn about Aston Villa from that cup game?
“Well they played as we expected them to play. They’re a very flexible, versatile team with a lot of rotation during the game between their full-backs and their eights. We were prepared for that and I think we coped quite well with that. At times we had problems to control their second and third striker up front and, in the second half, I think that got a lot better and we controlled the game in the last 20-25 minutes. Now it’s about taking the next steps in the away game. Always being dangerous ourselves when we’re in possession of the ball, not have too many giveaway balls when we’re on the counter-attack. Make use of the spaces that were also there in the home game against Villa. This is what we’re all about.”

I’m sure it’ll be another tough game at Villa Park, one of the traditional football grounds. As a man of such knowledge as yourself it must be good to experience that yourself?
“Yes, I’m very much looking forward to that. I think I’ve been there many, many years ago as a spectator but as a coach I was never there. That is true for most of the stadiums that we’re playing now. I’m very much looking to being there as a head coach on the bench.”

Alex Telles has been recalled by Brazil. He’s done well since your arrival – is that testament to his progress and how much information he’s taken on board, and the fact we’ve got two left-backs now competing for that spot?
“As you said it’s all about competition and in the last few weeks I think he realised there was a realistic chance for him to play. He will play tomorrow instead of Luke Shaw, [with him] being suspended. Even when Luke was injured or when he was fit, he still did well. I’m more than happy to have two players like Luke and Alex for that position as a left-back. The same is true for the right-back position with Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. We have, in each of those positions, two good players and depending on who is fully fit, fully fresh, do we need to rest somebody? As with Luke, it’s the case right now he is suspended so it’s important to have two players with a little bit of a different profile. I think Alex is a little more of an offensive, wing-back full-back. The same is true of Diogo Dalot on the right-hand side. The other two English full-backs are both defensively and offensively balanced players so that gives the coach lots of options depending on which team you’re going to play.”
Aston Villa v United: Rangnick's press conference Video

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...

You told us Marcus Rashford was training really well last week so what is impressing you about him on the training pitch. You also suggested in the press conference that he had a good opening 20 minutes on Monday so how do you help him get the consistency over the full 90 minutes?
"I mean, of course, we speak quite frequently – either myself or my coaching staff, even Sascha Lense, to try to help him to try to find out how to improve his performances in a sustainable way. There is no doubt that he has massive talent, he’s one of our fastest players, he can score goals, he is tall enough, he has the physicality and can do that on a regular basis, those runs. It’s about showing those performances continuously, regularly so it’s about consistency, this is what we have to do but he has to do it on the pitch. We can only be helping hands, the people, whatever it takes to give him all the support in order so that he can improve."
Villa away: Part two of Ralf's press conference Video

Villa away: Part two of Ralf's press conference

Watch part two of Ralf's press conference for his take on Ronaldo, Rashford, Martial and much more...

We like the ‘winning team’ pics the players post on social media – can you explain a bit more behind them, what sort of games or competitions do they refer to?
"I mean, yesterday, we played 7v7 in a tournament with three teams. The other week, we did the same with 5v5 so we do that, depending on the number of players that are available. I’m a big fan of doing that once per week, those kind of competitions, because the players need to perform on a high level. The workload is good and you can see nobody can hide if you play 7v7 or 5v5. Everyone has to show up. If he doesn’t do that it becomes obvious for the head coach and the team members."

The Under-18s progressed in the Youth Cup against Reading this week, how much do you like to look at what we’ve got coming through the ranks?
"Unfortunately, in the last six weeks, I haven’t been able to see that many of the teams because of COVID but also because of our own schedule. I very much hope this can change in the next couple of weeks because I like to see those teams personally, if they have the games to play. Of course, we have some of those players in our squad in training but it’s still important to see them play in their competitions."