Rangnick's press conference: Part two

Tuesday 18 January 2022 22:30

Ralf Rangnick fielded questions on several Manchester United players - including Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho - in the second section of his media briefing for the Brentford game, held back until 22:30 tonight (Tuesday). Here you can read every word...

Just to clear up the situation with Anthony Martial. You said he refused to travel to Aston Villa. He subsequently said he would never refuse to play for Manchester United. Who is telling the truth on that?
“I said all that needs to be said on that after the game. I nominated him before the game and he was not part of the group. You can draw your own conclusions out of that. I had a conversation with him on Sunday about all this and now, for me, from my perspective, everything has been spoken about, has been resolved. [There’s] no need to add anything on top of that.”

Could I ask you about Jadon Sancho? Before you came to Manchester United, you said that he was one of the most exciting young talents in Europe with his pace, his ability to beat players, his assists. It’s not working out for him at the moment at Manchester United. From your experience and from working with him the last six weeks, why is that the case?
“Difficult to say. I think it’s a different league, it’s a different competition. It’s more physical, it’s more pressure, although he also played for one of the biggest clubs in Germany, in Dortmund, but I think in total, the whole league, the whole competition is more physical and the level of expectation is higher. When he came to Borussia Dortmund as a young player, he was only 18. Now he’s 23, 24, playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world. I think it’s also got to do with a lot of different things up here in his head. But in training, whenever I see him train, he’s showing that he’s one of the best players in the training sessions. But now it’s about the transfer to when he’s playing, and to showing to the same kind of level and performance on the pitch.”
Brentford (a): Part two of Ralf's press conference Video

Brentford (a): Part two of Ralf's press conference

Watch the second half of Rangnick's press conference for the latest on Martial, Sancho, Lingard and more...

Jesse Lingard is out of contract in the summer. There have been times this season where people have felt he should have had more chances from the start. Is he not getting chances as a starter because it seems unlikely that he will stay at the club next season?
“To me it’s important that we always win the next game we play, and it’s also a question of formation. Which is the best possible position for players? We have now decided to play in a 4-3-3 like we played against Aston Villa, with one holding six and two eights, with three offensive players, and there are two positions that he can play. But we also have some competition on those positions. Obviously, he needs to play and train on that kind of level [so] that he’s an option to start. We have a big squad; maybe a little bit too big of a squad. And as far as I know, his contract is expiring in the summer, and the question is what will happen after that four months? Again, he’s a player who can play. I brought him on in the last 10 minutes of the Villa game, together with Donny van de Beek, and he will probably not be available for tomorrow because he didn’t train yesterday and the day before yesterday. He will probably also not train today, because he has an issue with his ankle. This is what I can state.”

On Sancho again, obviously you saw first-hand what Jadon can do. What was he doing then that he’s not doing now, and how can you help to bring that back?
“With those kinds of players, with those kinds of creative, offensive players, it’s all about confidence, about having that confidence, being aware how good they can be, and then showing it in front of 75,000 or 40-45,000 at Villa Park. Of course, in the end he has to do that. He has that step again. In training, as I said, in most training sessions he’s training on a very high level. Now it’s about having the transfer onto the pitch in the league competitions. In the Premier League, in the FA Cup and in the Champions League. He can do that; he has the ability to do that. There is no doubt about that, but now we have to develop him into that kind of player, showing the same kind of performances that he showed at Borussia Dortmund.”

Just on Jadon again, he’s been moved around the pitch under previous managers. No-one really seems to know what his best position is. Do you have an idea on that, or is it still something you’ve got to decide?
“It’s clear that in a 4-3-3 that he’s a player for either of the two wing positions, either left or right. He can play both. I think he would prefer a little bit the left side, because he can then switch inside and have a go on goal or shoot on goal with his strong foot. But for me, there’s no question,  no doubt about his position. He’s a winger. As we say in Germany, he’s somebody who can dribble fast with the ball, and for me it’s not at all a question of which is the best possible position for him.”
You said that you’ve got a big squad. But I just wondered, do you think there’s any opportunity in this January transfer window to reshape it a little bit, perhaps with one or two players going or one or two coming in? Or do you think that’s unlikely?
“I have spoken to quite a few of those players who don’t get enough game time, and I can fully understand the players. If I was a player myself, or if I was the father or the agent of the player, I would also not be happy about not playing regularly, or not playing at all. But again, it takes two things: one is that the player wants to leave, and they also need clubs who can really offer them a contract and a better perspective to play. And then there also still needs to be an agreement between the two clubs. As I said, I can fully understand some of our players who would like to get more game time, and they are capable to get more game time at other clubs, and I wouldn’t interfere. They would have even my blessing if they would want to leave. But in the end, it’s the question of other issues that also need to be resolved.”

I know you’ve spoken in the past about it being pointless playing players who want to leave the club. It’s clear Paul Pogba does, because his contract’s coming up and he hasn’t signed another one. Is there any point in playing him when you’re looking to the future?
“Yes, of course. I also played Nemanja Matic in the last games, and his contract is also expiring. By the way, my contract as the manager is also expiring in the summer, so for us we have the same goal. We have the same ambition to be as successful as we can possibly be in the next three or four months. For me, it’s not a question if a player has an expiring contract. The question is: how much does he still want to be part of this group? How much does he still feel emotionally and physically on board? As long as this is the case, why should Paul Pogba, now, after two and a half months of injury, being fully fit again [not play]? He wants to show the fans of Manchester United, the board, the whole world, what kind of player he can be. Even if it’s for only showing up for a new contract elsewhere, he will be highly motivated to do that, so why should I then not play him? But as I said, there is a difference of: how do players deal with their current situation? How do they handle that? If they handle that in a professional way, in an ambitious way, of course I can and will play players, although they have a contract expiring in the summer.”

Team news for Brentford game


Ralf Rangnick brings us up to speed with his squad plans for the clash in the capital.

The audio on your first response on Jadon Sancho cut out, but I did catch the last bit of it, where you said there may be an issue in his head. I was just wondering, do you think, given the fee he came for and the expectation and the pressure around being a Manchester United player, that Jadon is having difficulty with that element of the game?
“As I said, it’s a difference if you come as an 18-year-old, unknown, an talented English boy, to Borussia Dortmund. From then on, you can only improve; you can only make a success out of that. The level of expectation was a lot lower compared to the situation when, at the age of 23, you come to a club like Manchester United for a high transfer fee, with a high level of expectation. Everybody expected from him that he would be one of the best players in the team. Again, this is psychologically, emotionally, a more challenging situation than the one he had at Borussia Dortmund, and this is exactly those kind of steps that he has to make to become a top player for the next 10 years for this club. We can give him the guidelines, we can give him helping hands and showing him that we are trying to accompany him on this way, and give all the necessary assistance that he needs, but in the end it’s up to him to take those next steps. As I said, for me it’s not at all a question of his position. His position is left or right winger. This is his best possible position. But, again, it’s not only about training on the highest possible level. I said that to him, by the way, the day before yesterday. Confirm the performances you show in training when you’re playing on the pitch.”