The new interim manager wants his team to press their opponents high up the field and was impressed by the Portugal star’s work up front
Ralf Rangnick has praised Cristiano Ronaldo for his work off the ball as the German coach’s reign at Manchester United started with a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace.
A goal from Fred in the second half of the clash at Old Trafford was enough to see the Red Devils secure the three points in the first match under the new interim boss.
Rangnick was pleased with the way they played, and highlighted Ronaldo’s effort as United got their first taste of the new pressing system the manager is looking to implement.
What has been said?
“I am very happy with the way the team performed, especially the first half-hour, with the pressing, it was exceptional. The only thing missing was the 1-0 or 2-0,” he told BBC Match of the Day.
“The way we defended, we had control of the whole game, the clean sheet was the most important part.
“These are the things we must improve. We need to keep clean sheets. With just the one training session, I was really impressed. We did much better than expected.
“We always tried to be on the front foot. We were never not apart from maybe the last five minutes. At all other times we were trying to keep them away from our goal.
“We wanted to play with two strikers, especially in the central position. By the way, Cristiano Ronaldo’s work off the ball, chapeau.”
What do Man Utd players think of Rangnick’s style?
Much has been made of the playing style the former RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim coach is expected to introduce at Old Trafford, with the team expected to press teams high up the pitch.
United star Bruno Fernandes was delighted with the start they had against Palace as they closed their opponents down and played at a high tempo.
“It depends on the game,” he told Premier League Productions.
“Sometimes you have to press a little bit more, sometimes you have to press less and everyone knows that it’s one of the things that the manager wants from us. More pressure, to be more aggressive. We tried to do it [today].
“I think the first 25 minutes from us was unbelievable, great tempo and we don’t give any space to them. We recovered a lot of balls high up the pitch. We could have scored many times in the first half I think, at least three times we could do a little more.
“But we got the three points and that’s the most important thing.”
Fred’s long-range winning goal against Crystal Palace capped off a hugely encouraging first outing for the Red Devils under their new interim boss
Ralf Rangnick went into his first Manchester United game with two aims: to win, and to oversee a controlled display from his new team.
On Sunday, he succeeded on both counts.
The 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace did not mark a blistering start to the new regime at Old Trafford, but this was a performance to bring hope and promise that Rangnick, with a bit more practice, could bring success back to United.
Much like the end result is unlikely to cause major headlines once the dust settles, Rangnick arrived in the dugout for the first time to little fanfare.
He walked out merged in with the rest of the coaching staff, and stadium announcer Alan Keegan made no special declaration that a new manager was in town.
But even those who may have had their heads in the sand for the last three weeks and were not aware that United had made a new coaching appointment would have realised from the off that this was a different side to the one that has struggled through the early months of the season.
He may have picked the same line-up that had beaten Arsenal on Thursday – which given he only had one training session with his new players was hardly a surprise – but the team’s style of play was already markedly different.
Right from kick-off United pressed with purpose. It is not that they had not pressed in the past, but this time there seemed to at least be a structure to it.
Gone were individuals aimlessly hounding opposition players hoping for the best as they did so many times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Here they pressed as a pack, and it almost bore fruit after just three minutes, as Alex Telles saw a shot pushed out for a corner after the ball had been won back deep in Palace territory.
A switch of formation to Rangnick’s favoured 4-2-2-2 resulted in the team being more direct in their attacking play, too. With half-an-hour gone, Marcus Rashford had created three chances, Cristiano Ronaldo had attempted five shots and Jadon Sancho looked lively as he switched positions with Bruno Fernandes behind the front two.
In total, United managed 12 efforts on goal during the first half, with all that was missing was that final clinical pass or shot.
Rangnick, who spent the majority of the match in the technical area, seemed encouraged by what he was seeing, as he applauded each attempt on Vicente Guaita’s goal. Their pressing was clearly paying off, as across the duration of the match they won possession 12 times in Palace’s defensive third. Their previous best in a league match this season was seven times.
“It has been an average season so far, there is no avoiding that, but the club has players who are much better than the position we currently occupy, and it is my job to improve those players and that position,” Rangnick wrote in his first programme notes. “The first step in doing that is a shift in how the collective approaches games.
“If you want to win a football match, you have to control it, so the aim right now is to help the team control games more. That means being more proactive with and without the ball.”
That proactivity was clear, though the energy levels required to keep that up over the course of 90 minutes is something United’s players will need to reach going forward as they began to flag after just 20 minutes of the first half.
That said, they still recorded season highs for first-half passes into the final third (48), first-half touches in the opposition box (26) and first-half passes into the opposition box (26), among other metrics.
“I didn’t expect us to play on that level after only one-and-a-half training days with the players,” Rangnick told Sky Sports post-match. “The first half-hour was amazing. It was high-intensity, high-speed, high-tempo.
“The way we played against the ball, the whole game was in their (Palace’s half). I was positively surprised.”
Rangnick did his best to maintain his team’s intensity after the break, and could be seen wildly gesturing with his arms on the touchline as he looked for a solution to break down Patrick Vieira’s visitors.
The ex-RB Leipzig boss introduced Mason Greenwood and Anthony Elanga from the bench in a bid to spark his attack back into life, but in the end it was Fred who provided the moment of magic that United required.
Despite the win, this was not a perfect 90 minutes from United. There was, though, clear progress, and having only met his players for the first time 48 hours ago, that is as much as Rangnick could have asked for.
The control he demanded in his programme notes was certainly there as David de Gea was rarely tested on his way to securing United’s first clean sheet at Old Trafford since April, and with consecutive league wins for the first time since September, the fight for a top-four finish is on ahead of what looks to be a forgiving run of fixtures.
The Rangnick revolution has begun, and the signs are encouraging for all those related to Manchester United.
The Red Devils’ new interim manager has been discussing the Portuguese star’s role in his team
Ralf Rangnick has officially taken charge at Manchester United, with the interim boss at Old Trafford revealing how Cristiano Ronaldo figures in his plans and how foundations for long-term success will be put in place.
The German has been cleared to inherit the reins from caretaker coach Michael Carrick, who is walking away completely after three games at the helm, with a visa finally granted.
There is much for Rangnick to do in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal, particularly how Ronaldo will fit into his plans.
What has been said?
Ronaldo was dropped to the bench by Carrick for the trip to Chelsea, but returned to the United starting XI with a bang as he passed the 800 goal mark for his career in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Arsenal.
Rangnick was in attendance for that game and said at his introductory press conference: ”You always have to adapt your style or your idea of football to the players you have available, not vice-versa.
“Having seen Cristiano yesterday in the second half at the age of 36, an amazing top professional. At his age, I’ve never seen a player who is still that physically fit. He’s still a player who can easily make the difference.
“So, yes, it’s about how we can develop the whole team not only Cristiano. We play in the most competitive league in the world so we need all the players on board.
“What I saw from Cristiano yesterday, he is more than willing to do that, to put his input into the team. His team-mates will have to do the same.”
Why turned down Chelsea?
Ralf Rangnick has confirmed that Chelsea offered him the chance to take over as interim manager last season, before they settled on Thomas Tuchel as Frank Lampard’s permanent replacement.
Rangnick has since been snapped up by Manchester United on a temporary basis, taking over until the end of the season as head coach before he moves into an advisory role for a further two years.
After red tape delayed his appearance on the touchline – the German was forced to watch United’s victory over Arsenal on Thursday from the stands – he will finally be in the dugout for his new side’s meeting with Crystal Palace.
Speaking before that game, Rangnick explained why he turned down a Premier League move with Chelsea before being tempted to England by the Red Devils’ offer.
“When Chelsea contacted me last year, they only spoke about the option to become interim manager for four months, without any prospective to work in the long term together,” he said.
“Now here we are talking about six-and-a-half months, so we only have one third of the games played in the Premier League.
“We have also agreed on a two-year advisory role after those six-and-a-half months. In the end, to be honest, if a club like Manchester United contacts you for such a role you cannot possibly turn it down.”
Rangnick arrives at Old Trafford with United lagging behind his former suitors. The Red Devils currently sit in seventh, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table.
Will additions be made?
Rangnick has arrived in England with another transfer window fast approaching, but claims to have no recruitment plans in place yet.
He said when asked about possible additions in January: “We haven’t spoken about new players.
“Now is the time to get to know the current squad in detail, the squad is definitely not too small. There are enough players.
“Maybe after Christmas, there will be a time to talk about possible transfers in the winter. In my experience, winter is not the time for sustainable transfers. It will be difficult in the winter.”
There have been suggestions that United will look to use Rangnick’s presence as a bargaining chip to prise Erling Haaland away from Borussia Dortmund, with the 63-year-old having previously spent time working with the Norwegian striker as sporting director at Red Bull Salzburg.
Bonuses are said to be up for grabs if such a deal can be put in place, but Rangnick has laughed off those reports.
He said: “£10 million [$13m] for Haaland, £10m for [Kylian] Mbappe, £10m for [Robert] Lewandowski and £10m for [Joshua] Kimmich.
“This is nonsense. There is no such clause in my contract. There is little point in speculating over new players. I know what kind of player he is, but in the meantime, the whole world has realised how good the player is.
“The offensive players we have here, we have so many top players in the offensive department that we don’t need to speak about any other player.”
How long will Rangnick stay?
For now, Rangnick is eager to keep focus on the present as he has only signed up to six months in the dugout before shifting into an advisory role.
He said of his position: “The people who I’ve spoken with, they have been very clear that it is a six-month role. We have never spoken about what will happen in the summer.
“If they will speak about me with that, we will see. if they ask me about my opinion, I might make the same recommendation that I did at RB Leipzig twice, that it might be better to work with me for one year.
“It’s not unusual that after a long, successful spell, the club needs to find a new pathway. The club has had no continuity in signing new players and sticking to the DNA of the club.
“In the future, the board members and my self have the same opinion. It’s important not to have many changes in management.”
The Red Devils remain keen on Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino, although Rangnick will step in until the end of the 2021-22 season
Manchester United are closing in on appointing Ralf Rangnick as their interim manager until the end of the season.
The Red Devils have held advanced talks with the 63-year-old, and it is expected he will soon be announced as a short-term replacement for sacked former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has been on United’s radar, with GOAL having confirmed that the Ligue 1 giants knocked back an initial enquiry, although Rangnick will steer the ship until the end of the season.
What are the details?
Manchester United have settled on hiring an interim manager after the sacking of Solskjaer, with the Red Devils believing they would struggle to land Pochettino, their first-choice permanent target, at the moment.
Sources say the former Tottenham boss is keen to make the move to Old Trafford and would have been open to leaving PSG in the middle of the season.
However, it is understood intermediaries sounded out the French side over letting him go and were knocked back, with the Ligue 1 side not interested in allowing their head coach to leave during the season.
Consequently, the United board have been working through a five-man shortlist, that included former Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde, as they searched for an interim successor to Solskjaer.
It is understood conversations with Rangnick have been positive and he is expected to take the position on a sixth-month basis. He could then stay on after next season in a consultancy role.
Rangnick had reservations about taking the job over the weekend, in the immediate aftermath of Solskjaer’s sacking, as he wasn’t keen on a short-term, six-month deal.
It’s understood he changed his mind, however, after United offered him a role to stay on after the end of his interim spell.
What is Rangnick’s background in football?
During his coaching career, Rangnick has managed five clubs in the Bundesliga, including Schalke and RB Leipzig.
It was with Schalke that he enjoyed the most success, finishing runners-up in Germany’s top flight in the 2004-05 season, while he claimed DFB-Pokal and DFL-Supercup glory in 2011.
In 2012, Rangnick became director of football for both RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg, with the 63-year-old having played a significant role in helping the former rise from the fourth tier of German football to the Bundesliga.
Rangnick is currently Manager of Sports and Development at Russian Premier League side Lokomotiv Moscow, where he was appointed to the role back in July 2021.