Ralf Rangnick met with journalists at the post-match press conference to answer questions about his debut on the Manchester United training bench. The Red Devils won 1-0 at home against Crystal Palace.
RALF RANGNICKA POST-NIGHT PRESS CONFERENCE:
What do you think about your band’s overall performance, especially the first 30 minutes?
– Overall, I’m very happy. I was positively surprised by the physical condition and our intensity. We did an amazing 30 minutes in the first half. I felt we were playing extremely fast at high intensity and dominating our opponent almost all the time. The only thing that was missing in the first half was the goal score. We could have scored one, two or even three goals. It was obvious, however, that we could not play like that throughout the game, although despite the loss of intensity, we still had control over the course of the game. We also started the second half well and I think we deserved to win in the end. I am very happy with the clean slate. Fred scored a beautiful goal with his weaker leg. As I mentioned, the most important thing for me was the control we had for most of the match. We missed in the last three or four minutes when our opponents had thrown all their strength into the attack. We had to save a few corners and free kicks, but we did a great job. It was the perfect first meeting.
What do you think Fred can bring to this team because when you talk about control it is obvious that a lot depends on midfield?
– If we play as we do today, referring to this intensity, domination and pro-activity, then behind our four offensive players, we must have disciplined players who will be pro-actively and aggressively attacking the ball. Such players include Scott McTominay and Fred. They both performed their defensive tasks almost perfectly. They made two or three mistakes, especially in the first half, when they decided to pass across the field. I don’t like such moves in the middle of the field. But as I mentioned, when the opposing team is in possession of the ball, Fred and Scotty are almost perfect.
In the first half, you had the most kicks and passes in the final period, and the most contacts in your opponent’s penalty area this season, based on your stats. Did it surprise you that the players were able to achieve your goals so quickly?
– Yes, I must admit that I was positively surprised. We had two less recovery days compared to Crystal Palace as we played the previous game quite late on Thursday. Honestly, we didn’t even do one full training session. We trained for 45 minutes yesterday because then there was a downpour. The weather was disgusting. It was raining and windy, so it was impossible to train with full concentration. But 45 minutes was important because we explained to the players on the pitch how we want to play. Then we focused on video analysis, had a lot of private conversations explaining our way of playing. I did not expect them to play at this level after such a short time.
You said that the most important thing for you is immediate victories. How will you celebrate today’s win?
– Are you talking about me? I do not know. I’ve done a lot of interviews in the last 30 minutes. Maybe I’ll have a nice dinner and a glass of red wine. We have training tomorrow and I have to be in Carrington at 9:00 because we have another game on Wednesday. The next game in the Premier League awaits us on Saturday at Norwich City. So I don’t have much time to celebrate.
You mentioned your offensive four. How difficult was it for you to select your squad and what do you think about Mason Greenwood’s influence after coming off the bench?
– It seemed logical to me not to change too much after winning against Arsenal. When I found out that everyone was healthy and ready for the next meeting, I decided on the same eleven. I was focusing solely on how we would be able to press and control the course of the game. Then I figured we should play 4-2-2-2 with two strikers instead of the lonely Cristiano Ronaldo. I wanted Marcus Rashford to be at his side, who makes great use of the spaces for vertical passes. Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho played in the tens positions. The rest were the same. Thanks to the positioning of Bruno and Jadon, our side defenders had plenty of room to play high and show themselves to play on the wings. Alex Telles and Diogo Dalot therefore played almost like a pendulum, especially in the first half. Both did very well on the offensive. I chose the 4-2-2-2 setup so that each player could play in the best position possible for them. The two tens are the most demanding and difficult positions in this system. But I believe that while Crystal Palace was in possession of the ball, Bruno and Jadon did a really good job of doing their job. It was something new for them, but not too much, especially with Jadon Sancho, as it doesn’t really make much difference whether he is playing closer to the center or the sideline.
In the second half, you made one-to-one shifts. Is it because you were happy with the way the game was played and expected the goal to come soon?
– Yes. We desperately wanted to win this match. It made sense to send Mason Greenwood to play for this position and then Anthony Elanga. In the end, Donny van de Beek replaced Bruno Fernandes. It turned out well, we scored a goal and we deserved to win.
– I will also refer to Mason Greenwood because I had not answered the question about his influence before. Mason did really well at the start of the season. He scored three or four goals in the first three meetings. He is an extremely talented footballer from this city, so I would like to give him more minutes on the pitch in the future. He deserved to get off the bench with his training attitude. It’s good that I had him at my disposal on the bench and I could bring him onto the pitch.
You mentioned in the match program that you are still trying to get to know your players. You have already secured your promotion to the knockout stage of the Champions League from first place. Is it possible that we will see a completely different squad on Wednesday so that you can take a look at the players who did not get a chance against Crystal Palace?
– It is definitely possible. We want to bring in some fresh players as the next league game is coming on Saturday. We will face the exit from Norwich City. We’ll talk about it tomorrow at the training facility. The problem is that we can only play with players who are entered into the competition. For example, I would like to use Phil Jones, who has returned to training after a long injury, but unfortunately he is not on the list. So we have to focus on the available players. I don’t know if we will play a completely different squad with ten new players, but we will definitely bet on a few fresh players.