Ralf Rangnick.

Every word from Ralf's press conference

Tuesday 22 February 2022 15:32

Manchester United interim head coach Ralf Rangnick has met with the media to preview Wednesday evening’s Champions League last-16 first leg away to Atletico Madrid.

Following a training session at Carrington, the German sat down alongside Bruno Fernandes to field questions from journalists via video link, prior to departing for the Spanish capital.

Within the press conference, Ralf provided an update on Edinson Cavani’s availability for the tie, before discussing the keys to the game at the Wanda Metropolitano, the prospect of facing his opposite number in the dug-out Diego Simeone and more…

We’ve rounded up every word from that media briefing, which you can read in full below…

Will Edinson [Cavani] make the trip? Will anybody be unavailable for the game?
"No Edi will not be able to make the trip, he didn't train and has not been training for the last couple of weeks. He will not be part of the group"
Atletico v Utd: Ralf and Bruno's press conference Video

Atletico v Utd: Ralf and Bruno's press conference

Ralf Rangnick was joined by Bruno Fernandes was our pre-match press conference, which you can watch in full here...

Is that a concern because it sounded like it was an issue that you were not really expecting to be this bad?
"He has problems with his groin and as long as he does not feel able to fully sprint, it doesn't make sense to train him and force him back into training. I think he has enough experience himself to know when he is fully available."

Over the Brighton game and Leeds at the weekend, are we now starting to see the fighting spirit that we expected to see from your side as a Manchester United coach?
"I think we also showed it in the earlier games and the games before that, but in the end, Bruno just said it, it's about getting the right result. In the last two games, we just made sure we rewarded ourselves with points in both games and this is what it will also be like for the future, in the Champions League against Atletico but also for the games in the Premier League. It's not only about playing well for 45 or 60 minutes, which also we did in the games before those two games, it's about getting the result."

When you have such a little amount of time to prepare for a game like this, what is your most important thing? Is it the tactics? Make sure they rest? Psychology part of it? What's the most important part for you?
"Well, in the Champions League, you need to perform on the highest possible level in all those areas that you just mentioned. Of course, we had a game on Sunday, a very physical one, Atletico played away at Osasuna on Saturday, so there might be a slight advantage with regards to recovery on their side. Maybe we will have some fresh legs on the pitch, we will see tomorrow. We need to play tactically on a high level, physically, mentally, we'll need to be prepared, emotional, it will be a hostile atmosphere in their stadium. Some of our players will not be received with a red carpet obviously, so this is what we are all aware of, but I think we have enough experience in the team and, on the other hand, also enough talented young players. I think a mix of those two groups is perfect. We are looking forward to this game. This is why we are all here and why we love this ball game, in order to play in stadiums like tomorrow and, in two or three weeks, when we have the second leg, we play at Old Trafford. It's about getting the best possible result, I don't think the fixture will be decided tomorrow, it will be decided in the second leg at Old Trafford."
You said that finishing fourth [in the Premier League] is the priority this season, to what extent is the Champions League a distraction in that sense? Some of your rivals going for fourth spot aren't in Europe so that could give them the advantage in the running... is the Champions League, in that sense, kind of a distraction for you?
"No, it can never be a distraction and that's why every team qualified and is desperate to qualify for this season's Champions League. If you want to qualify for the Champions League next season, how can it be a distraction? This is why we're playing here and why we're all here working for this club. We are playing Champions League tomorrow against one of the best teams in Europe and, of course, we want to show everybody that we can beat this team. By the way, maybe it's not the biggest chance, but there's still a chance, if you win the Champions League you can also qualify for the Champions League. But in order to do that, we first have to make sure we play two top games against Atletico and hopefully at the end of those two games be able to proceed to the next round."

I know the final is a long way away but of course Manchester United will be aiming to be in the Champions League final. With all the uncertainty in eastern Europe at the moment, would you feel comfortable playing a game in Russia, in St Petersburg?
"It's still a long way to the final and if we are to have a chance, then we need to beat Atletico first. We are fully aware this is not the easiest of all draws we could get and then what would happen is maybe for UEFA and maybe some politicians to decide upon. I think we all hope, not only here in England but in the whole of Europe, if not the rest of the world, that no things will escalate, nobody could be interested in a sort of war within Europe. This is more important actually than a Champions League game to be honest."

United are routinely called one of the biggest clubs in the world but, in the last 10 years, haven't been beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Do you think that a club has to be in the last sort of last eight, last four and in Champions League finals to be considered one of the biggest in the world?
"Yeah, but we also have to be realistic. There have to be some reasons why it wasn't the case in the past, we should not be too interested in what happened over the last five, six, seven, eight years. All life is in the present tense and maybe in the next couple of days and weeks. We have the chance to proceed into the quarter-finals of the Champions League but, in order to do that, we have to show that we're up for that and we can beat Atletico Madrid. Then if we manage to do that, this will give us another boost and raise the confidence levels of the players obviously and we'll see what happens then. To say that a club like Manchester United should regularly be in the semi-finals of the Champions League...I could recall quite a few other clubs in Europe where this could also be the case and some of them even play in the Second Division. In Germany, I can tell you four clubs where this is the case."

Rangnick's team news for Madrid trip


The interim manager has the latest on his squad in advance of our Atletico assignment.

I just wonder on a personal basis, what does it mean for you to be able to coach in the knockout stage of the Champions League again? Was there maybe a time where you thought this time wouldn't come again? Also, when it comes to coaching against Diego Simeone's teams, are there things you have to consider that perhaps you wouldn't with other teams and other coaches?
"I think Bruno quite rightly said enough about Diego Simeone and those 11 years, when he won trophies with a clear identity, with a recognisable playing style and I don't think this has changed in the last years. It's always that emotional side that he shows and [his team] reflects the character of the manager - Diego Simeone is probably one of the most emotional managers in Europe. The style and the way his teams have always performed reflects those emotions that he always tries to bring into the team, and this is what it's all about. We need to match the levels of emotions and energy in both games, and this is what we will have to be aware of. I will try to prepare our team, my team for exactly that kind of challenge. It will be physical, it will be emotional, we have to be mentally strong in both games, even more so tomorrow when we play away. We haven't played against each other as of yet, but I've always admired what he has achieved in the 11 years with Atletico. I think he changed their club completely to one of the most respected clubs in Europe and, as I said, I'm looking forward to those two games that we play him."

You spoke a minute ago and the fact he's been at Atletico for 11 years and developed a club style, won lots of trophies, got to Champions League finals. Do you think it is important for United in their next appointment as manager to have someone who can do that? You know, be in a position for a long time and develop a style, because in the last few years, they've chopped and changed since Sir Alex [Ferguson] left...
"Yeah but, as I said earlier on, this is a question not for now, this is a question for the summer. Our full focus is on the present tense, on the Champions League tomorrow and the Premier League for the last 12 games. All the other issues have to wait until the end of the season."