Ralf Rangnick.

Rangnick's matchday Q&A

Friday 04 February 2022 09:59

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has discussed our Emirates FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough during his exclusive matchday interview with MUTV's Stewart Gardner.

The boss previewed the clash with the Championship side at Old Trafford and also discussed the likes of Paul Pogba and Hannibal.

In addition, he looked ahead to a busy February for the Reds as we prepare for the first of seven fixtures during the shortest month of the year.

Ralf's cup-tie confidence Video

Ralf's cup-tie confidence

The interim boss believes Middlesbrough play a similar style to one of our recent opponents...

Have you had a good break and some family time before this busy spell?
“Yes, I flew back to Germany to see my family and then spent a couple of days also in the sun, just to relax. And now, it was great to see the boys back and have a normal week of training, with five training sessions. We are looking forward now to the cup game and the rest of the season in the Premier League.”

Looking at the squad, are there any actual injuries for this game?
“We have Eric Bailly, who only came back last night with some ankle problems, a swollen ankle. He cannot be part of the squad. He didn’t train with the team today. We have Victor Lindelof ill and being out of training for the whole week. He trained on Sunday but, since Monday, he’s been ill. Edi will only come back on the weekend. He asked me for one or two days off after the international break and the two games that he played for Uruguay. Jesse will be rejoining the group on either Sunday or Monday. He just asked me and the board for a couple of days off to get fresh in his mind again.”

So Shaw, Wan-Bissaka and Sancho are all available again?
“Yes, everybody else is back and available. We have Hannibal included in the squad. He will, from now on, regularly train with us and be a regular member of the squad. He will also be part of the squad for tomorrow’s cup game.”

So have you been impressed by Hannibal, even though he’s been away at the Africa Cup of Nations?
“To be honest, I haven’t seen that much of him as he was with the national team. I saw him play in the tournament, not the Africa Cup of Nations but the one before [the Arab Cup] . I saw him play in the final and, from what I’ve seen so far, I think he’s a promising talent. He deserves to be part of the group for the rest of the season and also part of the group for tomorrow’s game.”

Paul Pogba is back, fit again and training – do you feel he is ready for action?
“I think he’s definitely ready for tomorrow and, since Fred only came back yesterday with jet-lag, as he played for Brazil, for me, it is quite logical to let Paul play. To see how he is doing and what kind of level he can play. What I’ve seen in training is promising and now it’s up to him to show up on the big pitch, in the big competitions we’re still in. Like everybody, I’m very excited by what he can give to the team and which kind of level he can play.”

Rangnick delivers cup team news


Ralf provides an update on his squad - including Paul Pogba's availability - for Middlesbrough's fourth-round visit.

He can play in various positions but do you have a position in mind or is it about his flexibility?
“What I’ve seen so far, with regard to his physique, his physical presence, his technical assets he has. I think his best position is a central midfield position. I don’t see him that much as a winger. By saying that, I wouldn’t say he cannot, at all, play that position. But we have quite a few players for the winger position right now. I see his best possible position as central midfield, if it’s a 6 or an 8, I have to see. I haven’t seen him play so far. If you ask me right now, probably the no.8 position.

There are seven games in February so how big is this month for the season?
“Important. Like the games in the past have been and, yes, with the last two wins, especially with the performance and last-second win against West Ham, I think it has raised the levels of confidence in everybody, the whole group. I still remember the scenes and atmosphere in the locker room 10 minutes after the game. It was an enormously important win for everybody, not only for the win but the performance we showed was, so far, the best we have played. Yes, we have to keep it going now and build upon that to be as successful as we can be. Hopefully, we’ll progress into the next round of the FA Cup and the next important game is then coming up on Tuesday [at Burnley].

You’ve had 10 games overall – are you satisfied with what has happened and the improvement?
“As a manager, as a head coach, you can never be satisfied. The average points-per-game is okay, it could have been more. If we look back at all those games and when we did concede goals and when did we score the goals, I think, in total, we cannot be pleased but it’s quite okay. The results have been good and now it’s about developing as a team and the better we play, the more control we get on games, the more likely will it be to get results in the next weeks.”

Part two of Ralf's FA Cup press conference Video

Part two of Ralf's FA Cup press conference

Here's the second section of Ralf's media briefing with journalists...

Middlesbrough are a Championship team but it’s the FA Cup and you can never take anything for granted…
“Not only that but since they changed manager, since Wilder is the new coach, they have been very successful, also in the Championship, winning a lot of games. They’ve only lost a couple of games since he arrived so I’m fully aware we’ll take the game extremely seriously, like a Premier League game. But I am confident if we can play at the level we played against West Ham, we can win the game and progress into the next round.”

They play three at the back, or five at the back, so is that a certain challenge because they are so well drilled?
“Yes, obviously we have to be dealing with them and watching a lot of video footage on Middlesbrough and the way they play. It’s pretty similar to Brentford, a back five with two strikers and quite a few players up front, trying to press as often as possible. We showed against Brentford, especially in the second half, we were able to outplay teams like that and it’s exactly what we need to do tomorrow.”