Part two of Rangnick's press conference
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has addressed the media on a whole host of different topics, ahead of his side's clash with West Ham United.
The 63-year-old, who fielded questions in part two of his routine pre-match press briefing, spoke on the importance of set-pieces, Harry Maguire's return to the team and his ambitions heading into the second half of the 2021/22 campaign.
With the Hammers bidding to leave M16 victorious for the second time this season, the Reds will know the challenge we face, as we aim to push towards the Premier League's top-four places.
Here's every word from the German ahead of another big test...
West Ham (H): Part two of Ralf’s press conference
Rangnick speaks about set pieces, the top four and plans for the break, in the second half of his press conference…
You said once that 30 per cent of goals are scored from set-pieces and that 30 per cent of training sessions should then focus on that. United have 114 corners this season yet haven’t scored from one of them, can you put your finger on as to why that is?
''In the end, yes, it is a question of training time, but it is also a question of deliveries. It is maybe a little weird, to be honest, given we have players who should be technically able to deliver the balls in the right way. It is something we still have to work on and still need to improve on in that area. At least we did score after a free-kick from Bruno’s goal at Villa, but yes I do fully agree with you. We haven’t also conceded in the last weeks and months, but we should also be more effective and more dangerous on set-pieces ourselves. We must improve the deliveries into the box and, even more so, when it’s free-kicks from the side of the goal too.''
With Victor [Lindelof], is this security around their families something the club should look into? Whilst the club are away and even, I suppose, during home games too?
''Yes, for sure. We are set to have a meeting in our hotel this evening and the club is set to speak to the players about what measures can be taken to increase the level of security and what is necessary for the club to do to support the players. This is something that will be ongoing in the next couple of weeks and, hopefully, the aim is to make their houses and homes more secure in the future.''
''I didn’t see or interpret it as him challenging me. He just showed, maybe too emotionally, that he was not happy to be replaced. It is not the first time for that. If you look back at the moments where Sir Alex replaced him or Sarri did at Juventus, his reaction was pretty similar. This shows, in the end, that it doesn’t matter which manager he has at the time, it’s about his own ambition and his own desire to stay on the pitch. In the end, it is a team sport and, for us, it is important to get the most out of each game, the maximum points. It is not a question of one player, but more an analysis of what do we need right now to secure the game? What kind of weapons do we need to score on the counter-attack? I’m not one of those to say what I did after the game was perfect, but I feel we did the right thing in the end and that was confirmed when we scored the third. I think Cristiano will go on to be a manager one day, perhaps in the next couple of years. He will, as a manager, experience that himself and, again, I don't blame him for acting like that. But any manager would wish that situations like that aren’t too emotional, even more so in front of the cameras as I don’t believe it benefits anyone. It’s an emotional game, players are being emotional and I didn’t take it personally at all. He would have loved to stay on the pitch and try to play on. I can understand that from the view he might feel as if he could have gone on to score one or two more goals. With the experience and the very disappointing experience at Villa Park, it was logical to act in a different way this time.''
You said every game has the upmost importance until the end of the season, how important is it to secure those ambitions of a top-four finish before the end of the season, in order to also attract the calibre of player you need at the club?
''Yes, of course it would be helpful if we knew we were going to play Champions League football next season. Not only to attract new players we would like here, but also to help aid the existing squad too. Everyone would like to play in the Champions League, but everyone also knows there are only two pathways to gain qualification. Either we finish in the top four in the Premier League, and this is not easy to achieve, but also, this season, there is still a lot of competition for at least that final fourth spot. The other way is to win the Champions League yourself. We all know both is not easy but it is more realistic and we are more able to plan or to develop to finish in the top four in the Premier League than, from now on, to say we plan to win the Champions League. This is what I told the boys before the game against Brentford.''
Given Victor Lindelof is now unavailable, presumably Harry Maguire will come back into the squad. Are there any areas in Harry’s game you feel he can improve?
''From the first day I arrived, Harry [Maguire] played and was already firmly within the starting XI. He picked up an injury in the Burnley game that ruled him out for the next two-three games and now he is back to full fitness, as he came on against Brentford. I explained to him that I didn’t want to change anything because I thought Victor and Rapha [Varane]'s partnership was doing well. Now with Victor being out, Harry will play from the beginning tomorrow and again be the captain of the team. In a back four, it is not only the individual performance, but also how they co-operate and how they work together. It is not the first time Harry and Rapha will play together as they did it quite a few times in the last few months. I’m very positive it will be a good partnership once more in tomorrow's game.''
''The players will have a couple of days off and we will then resume for training on Saturday. We will then have a full week of training ahead of the game against Middlesbrough. I think this is more important than training all the way through the whole two weeks. Going to a training camp with all the restrictions and having to deal with going back and forth wouldn’t have made sense, there would have perhaps been a few players who wouldn’t have been able to fly. It doesn’t make sense to travel with two-thirds of a squad and with four players away on international duty too. To travel with half the squad makes no sense, hence why we decided not to do it and we would much rather have a normal week of preparation ahead of the game against Middlesbrough.''