What did Rangnick say in part two of his press conference?
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick met with journalists on Friday afternoon to preview our Premier League game against Norwich City.
The Reds face the Canaries at Old Trafford on Saturday looking to get back to winning ways following last weekend’s defeat to Everton.
Prior to our latest outing, Ralf answered journalists’ questions in his media briefing, which is split into two separate sections.
The first was released this afternoon and can be found here, while the second part was embargoed for 22:30 BST, and is therefore now available for you to see in full.
Our boss was asked questions on expectations, the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba, the potential of selecting Academy players and much more…
Rangnick's Norwich press conference: Part 2
In the second part of his media briefing, Ralf is asked about Ronaldo’s fitness, promoting Academy players and more…
“Well, I don’t know what you [mean]…”
The expectation is part of being a Manchester United player. Why should they struggle with it?
“I don’t know if this is the case, but it might be, at least with one or two or three of our players, it seems to be like that. That the level of expectation is high and that some of the players seem to struggle with their own performance with that. Again, no alibis, no excuses, we have to be ready to cope and deal with it for tomorrow, for sure I am fully aware of that, and I’m also convinced and very positive that all of the players know about this. This is a test of character tomorrow and mentality in this game. We are playing against the bottom team. Yes, I know they won against Burnley last week and we know that Everton lost against Burnley the week before and we also thought we should be psychologically in a better position than Everton. But we have to show it on the pitch. Whatever we talk about right now, whatever kind of speculation we have and whatever you think, or I think might be reasons for the performance at Everton, we have to be able to, in our own house, beat a team like Norwich and show the best possible performance. This is what it’s all about but the truth, the reality, is on the pitch, whatever we talk about right now.”
With regard to the game tomorrow, you’ve just lost to Everton who are 17th, Norwich are bottom. Is it unthinkable that you could lose two weeks in a row to two relegation-threatened teams?
“It should be unthinkable, but we all know in football things like that can happen. We saw that even in the European cup games again and in other leagues, we saw it the day before yesterday that things like that can happen. This is what makes this ball game so interesting. You never know what the outcome might be. But as I said, I am pretty positive that we will show a reaction tomorrow. This has to happen, we have to show that we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our supporters, we owe that to the whole club and yes, as I said, it is definitely a test of character but we have to be aware that if we invest enough energy into that game with regard to total distance, sprints, fast runs… if we are tactically prepared for that game, which we will do, we always do that, we will give them the best possible game plan, we will try to with regard to formation and line-up to start with the best possible team. Then it’s up to the players to show on the pitch that they are still ambitious, and they want to finish the season on the highest and best possible note.”
“No, I have no regrets whatsoever that I took that role. I would do it over and over again. You have to see the situation that we had in December, and I don’t regret that at all. As a manager, I always think you have to question and ask yourself what could I have done better. Could you maybe have played with a different formation in this game, or could you have made this substitution earlier on? This is what is always happening. We always question and ask ourselves what we could have done better but in general, I think we are all aware that this is not an easy squad. That the whole situation was not easy, otherwise I wouldn’t even be sitting here, and Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] would probably still be here. But again, I think we have shown in the past, in the last couple of months that we were able to raise the level but in the same sustainable way that I would wish it to have happened. And that’s the reason why I am not happy at all with what we have done and achieved so far.”
Can I ask if Cristiano Ronaldo is fit because obviously he came off with an injury the other day? Is he fit to play?
“Yes, he’s fit to play.”
And have you spoken to him about the incident post-match with an Everton fan?
“No. I think he apologised in public on social media for what happened. As far as I know there is still an investigation ongoing, both from the police and the FA, but apart from that, I haven’t spoken about that with him.”
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“No. It doesn’t make any sense to speak about that right now. Again, we have seven games to play, the next one is tomorrow and our job is to get the best out of those seven games, win as many games as we possibly can, get as many points as we possibly can and then see where we end up at the end of the season.”
With Fred and Scott [McTominay] not being available for this weekend, that leaves you quite depleted in midfield. It’s been an issue all season as well. Looking ahead to tomorrow’s game, I know you’re down to the bare bones but is there a chance a youngster might come in? A lot of supporters are quite excited about [Hannibal] Mejbri for example but is it too soon for him to even be in contention? Some fans might argue they’d rather see him than Paul Pogba who, to all intents and purposes, is not going to be at the club next season...
“Well, to start with, I think it’s good for Hannibal for example or for Alejandro [Garnacho] to train with us now for the last couple of days and weeks but we are not playing any friendly games or games where we say ‘okay, now we give a young player an opportunity to play.’ It’s not about that. It’s about playing the best possible line-up and formation with which we still think we can win the game. Yes, it’s not the best situation that we have to replace both Fred and Scotty, but we still have enough central midfielders who can still play and as I said, we will try to find the best possible constellation and formation in order to be able to win the game tomorrow.”
Is Paul Pogba fit?
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“Again, no point in speaking or talking about that right now. This is not the issue. The issue is how can we win the game tomorrow. It’s not my job to speak about our ownership. I had a long conversation before I came over here at the beginning of December with the owner, and right now it doesn’t make any sense to speak about that.”
From your experience, Ralf, how much harder for a coach and players does it make it to play against a backdrop like this when the fans obviously aren’t happy?
“I don’t think so far we have had to deal with that. The support of the fans has been massive, no matter if it was home or away games, and so far, we haven’t had that situation where they turned their emotions against the team. But again, I can understand it. It’s a game, as I said, of passion and emotion. So far, whenever we come to the ground, be it away or at home, they are receiving and expecting the players with love and with passion. But as I said, it’s up to us to show them that they still care, that we care. The coaching staff, definitely, we care and that the players care and that they try to get the best out of it and that they show that they want to win the game.”
There’s talk that some fans won’t come into the stadium for the first 17 minutes tomorrow. That can’t be helpful to the team, surely?
“Well I don’t know what they have in mind, but I have heard they went to come in 17 minutes late but even if they do that, then after those 17 minutes, hopefully they’re still backing the team and are being behind us. That again, how much they do that, depends on what we show on the pitch. It’s a game of give and take so we cannot only expect they support us no matter what is happening on the pitch.”
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“We’re fully aware and I think we all agree that this is the league in Europe with the highest level of intensity and physicality, and that is why I was very disappointed about the game against Everton because we were second best in all those relevant statistics with regard to total distance, fast runs, sprints, and this is just not acceptable, and this should not happen again any more, no matter against which team that we play, that we are second best in all those relevant areas of the game. Even more so since they had played on Wednesday and we didn’t have a game the whole week.”
You’re missing a number of players due to injury, possibly because of the intensity levels of the Premier League. Do you think that’s a problem for teams in the Premier League, that you’re losing players because of how intense it is?
“Yes but I think right now, in this current situation, missing out those players hasn’t been good. The same with our strikers that I mention that we have lost since the West Ham game. Three strikers, with Mason Greenwood, with Anthony Martial, and Edinson Cavani who hasn’t been available for most of the games. Yes it would have been better to have those players available but we didn’t and still we should have been able to score goals in games like Everton or at home against Watford where we dropped valuable points”
Can the officials protect your players more from said tackles?
“No. I don’t think most of the injuries and casualties we have at present are due to some heavy tackles or fouls on the pitch, no.”