Rangnick: What I expect from our full-backs

Thursday 03 February 2022 14:55

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has described the roles and responsibilities that he expects the full-backs in his team to adopt, calling them “offensive defenders”.

It is a position that appears to be on an upward trend in the modern game, with the players on the left and right flanks of the defence having more and more influence at both ends of the pitch. 

Full-backs have certainly been key to the system that United have played since Rangnick’s arrival at the club back in December. 

Both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot have featured from the right side of defence under the German, while Alex Telles and Luke Shaw have been tasked with a similar job from the opposite side of the backline over recent months.
Part one of Ralf's FA Cup press conference Video

Part one of Ralf's FA Cup press conference

Watch part one of Ralf's press conference to preview Friday’s Emirates FA Cup fourth-round tie…

It will be intriguing to see who will be given the nod in those positions during Friday night’s Emirates FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough, with that quartet of players all set to be available, but our interim manager has spoken about what he expects from whoever plays in our full-back roles.

“They have to be defenders and, at the same time, give as much input as they possibly can if we're in possession of the ball,” Rangnick said, during his pre-match press conference on Thursday afternoon.

“They should be offensive full-backs, offensive defenders. I think in the last couple of weeks, we have improved in those areas.

“It will also be an important position for tomorrow's game because Middlesbrough will play in a back five with very offensive wing-backs, at times even with five or six offensive players in the opposition's half. 

“So, it'll be very important that we play tactically on a high level, with regard to our own full-backs.”

Despite not nailing his colours to the mast on who will start at right-back and left-back for us come Friday evening, Ralf did go on to hint that Shaw is likely to be given the nod in the latter of those two positions upon his return from injury, due to Telles’s recent involvement with Brazil on international duty.

Match preview: United v Middlesbrough


Your complete guide to Friday's Emirates FA Cup fourth-round tie.

Our no.27 played the entirety of the Selecao’s World Cup qualifying win over Paraguay - which kicked off in the early hours of Wednesday morning UK time - and will have therefore had limited time on the training pitch with the rest of the Reds group ahead of the fourth-round tie. 

“Luke will be back, he will probably play from the beginning because Alex Telles only got back last night and played on Wednesday for Brazil for 90 minutes.

“But what I want to see is [both full-backs] playing almost like wingers do and, at the same time, be modern defenders, winning one-on-one duels, switching sides from one side to the other when we have to mark.

“This is what we want to see and what I expect from our full-backs."