Rangnick: We must defend from the front
Ralf Rangnick has set Manchester United a target of defending from the front and reducing the number of attacks conceded in transitional moments.
The German coach has been at the club for just under a month now but has had much of the desired time on the training ground and in matches interrupted by closures and postponements caused by COVID-19.
After keeping clean sheets in the first two Premier League games of Rangnick’s time in charge, the Reds were held to a 1-1 draw at Newcastle United on Monday night.
As he prepared to take charge of just his second league game at Old Trafford, against Burnley this Thursday night (20:15 GMT), he explained his thoughts on the Reds' defence.
“Raphael [Varane] hasn’t played for five or six weeks and even before the Tottenham game he was injured, so in total over the last three months, he hasn’t played that many games,” said Rangnick, in his pre-match press conference.
“Yes, he made a mistake before the first goal that we conceded, but apart from that, I think he was okay. I wouldn’t say he was outstanding, and the same with Harry [Maguire], but they did okay.”
Varane’s appearance against Newcastle was his first game for the Reds since 2 November, when he started in our 2-2 away draw with Atalanta.
Rangnick insisted the defensive errors stemmed from a team problem, rather than any individual player.
“Our problem again was that we allowed them too many transitional moments and this is not only a problem of the centre-backs, it is a problem of the whole team and it starts upfront,” said the German.
“You can speak also about the role of the no.10s in that kind of formation. I don’t think it makes sense to speak about the individual performance of players, we need to get better as a team.”
United have conceded only two goals in Rangnick’s first four games in charge but David De Gea has been called upon to make some fantastic saves.
One of the key aims for Rangnick and his players will be growing more and more solid at the back, starting with Thursday night’s game against Burnley.
UK-based fans can watch United v Burnley live on Amazon Prime. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial now.