‘We are dominating games and this is what it’s all about’: Ralf Rangnick defends his record as Manchester United manager amid criticism of recent Red Devils performances in battle for a top four spot
- Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick insists team have improved under him
- United have lost just once and they have conceded only 10 goals in 14 matches
- But critics will point to an easy fixture list and less than convincing displays
- But the interim boss believes the side have ‘developed’ since Wolves defeat
Ralf Rangnick has launched a strong defence of his record at Manchester United, insisting the team have improved under his management despite widespread criticism of their performances.
Whilst the club have resembled a soap opera off the field in recent weeks, Rangnick has been keen to direct attention to results on the pitch with United beaten only once since the German succeeded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and interim Michael Carrick in December.
They have conceded only 10 goals in 14 matches during that time though critics will point to an easy fixture list and argue that both Southampton and Brighton have looked the better teams in their visits to Old Trafford over the past week.
Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick insists his side are not under performing
Rangnick has come across as a calm and reasoned thinker during his brief spell in England but ahead of Sunday’s trip to Leeds with the pressure on in their battle for a top-four finish, he came out fighting to justify his appointment until the end of the season.
‘Since the Wolves defeat (January 3), it’s obvious that the team has developed,’ he argued. ‘We control, not for 90 minutes, but for larger parts.
‘We are dominating games and this is what it’s all about in football. The team’s levels of confidence are raised if they have a feeling of controlling games.
‘I think we did that better since the Wolves game. Speaking regularly to the players, it’s obvious they feel strong on the pitch as a team.
United had struggled before eventually Cristiano Ronaldo fired them to a win over Brighton
‘When we realised in the first half against Brighton it was difficult to intercept and take the ball away from them, it’s out job to make changes.
‘I think in the second half we deserved to win against a team that didn’t lose against Chelsea or Liverpool. I think when I came we were eighth in the table, trailing by quite a few points.’
Even so, it’s sobering for United supporters that David de Gea has saved the most shots in the Premier League this season. It’s a statistic that underlines the frequency with which they give up chances.
‘Obviously as a manager I would love to be with a team that has allowed the fewest amount of shots,’ admitted Rangnick.
But Rangnick’s team have slipped up after being held to a draw by Southampton
‘It is not the case but it’s still good to know we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He can keep us in the game whatever the scoreline.
‘I think if you win two points [per game] on average in the whole season you are probably almost likely finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League.
‘Everybody wants to play in the Champions League every season, but we have to be realistic. Other teams have played less games than us.’
United’s fixture run is also about to get harder. After a midweek Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid, their next two away games in the Premier League are at Manchester City and Liverpool with fixtures against Arsenal and Tottenham also to come.
Darren Fletcher (left) is now a big presence on the touchline alongside Rangnick as well as the United manager’s assisting Chris Armas (right) as part of the interim setup at United
Rangnick is assisted by American coach Chris Armas and ex-United player Darren Fletcher who was appointed by the club working behind the scenes as a technical director but is now a visible tracksuited presence alongside the manager.
‘He has always been part of each training session, of each game,’ added Rangnick. ‘Obviously he (Fletcher) knows the players, I will ask him his opinion.
‘What his role is with regard to the club, I don’t really know to be honest. I can only tell you what is happening around training session and games. In those areas it is good to have him on board.’