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Rangnick discusses Man Utd’s defensive ‘problem’ and his ‘negative surprise’ against Newcastle

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has said that his side’s current defensive issues ‘start upfront’, with the whole side needing to take responsibility.

Manchester United were nothing short of woeful in their 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Monday evening, Eddie Howe’s side having by far the better chances throughout, with the Red Devils grateful to the heroics of David De Gea on a number of occasions.

 

Raphael Varane made his first appearance since November 2nd during the draw, though the World Cup winner was culpable for Newcastle goal, his hesitation seeing Sean Longstaff retrieve the ball and lay it off to goalscorer, Allan Saint-Maximin.

Speaking ahead of Thursday night’s game against Burnley, Rangnick felt his central defensive pair did ‘okay’.

“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,” Rangnick said during 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.”

The German said his side’s defensive issues were caused by allowing Newcastle ‘too many transitional moments’, and said that the entire team need to take responsibility for the defending.

“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.”

The German said that the level of performance against Newcastle came as a ‘negative surprise’, admitting his side have not made as much progress as he would have liked following the shutdown of the clubs training ground.

“Of course not [happy with the progress so far]. Every ambitious coach, and there’s no difference between other coaches and myself in that area, wants to take faster steps and larger steps forward. In order to do that, you need to be able to train and, as you know, we had to close Carrington for four days, and before that, we had eight or nine outfield players training,” he said.

“So directly after the Norwich game, they only came back in small bits and pieces, so the last three days we were almost back to full strength with regards to the size of the squad, but we couldn’t do that much in training.

“On the other hand, in those two or three training sessions, the team looked good and so therefore in [the game against Newcastle] it was a negative surprise the way that we played with regards to game speed, game tempo and physicality.”

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