Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick responds to Paul Scholes’ criticism of team vs Southampton

Ralf Rangnick believes Manchester United’s failure to master pressing was apparent in their 1-1 draw with Southampton.

For the third game running, United went in at half-time 1-0 up but conceded early in the second, this time just a minute later than at Burnley on Tuesday night.

Southampton well merited their point three days after winning at Tottenham and set-up in their favored 4-2-2-2 formation under Rangnick’s former Red Bull colleague, Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Rangnick opted for the 4-2-2-2 system in his first five Premier League games in charge of United until it was abandoned following the 1-0 defeat to Wolves. Hasenhuttl said United ‘aren’t used to [pressing] for more than 30 or 40 minutes, we came into the game after that’ and Rangnick conceded that contributed to more dropped points.

“I don’t think it’s a question of habit,” Rangnick said. “It’s a question of what kind of players do we have, how do they want to play, we can only make up as a team, changing habits. You can be sure we address those things all the time, that we do those things even in the moments we can train with them properly.It’s all about being aggressive, taking the last step.

“Our team compared to Southampton has never been a pressing team and to change those habits within a couple of weeks without having a pre-season doesn’t happen like that.”

Rangnick cited United’s ‘expected goals’ figure – a questionable stat that measures how likely teams are to score when United have scored more than eleven in just three of Rangnick’s 13 matches in charge and one goal in five of their last seven games.

Paul Scholes, on punditry duty, was scathing of United’s players and claimed ‘some players do not want to put a shift in for this club’ in a lengthy diatribe.

“To start with, I think what Paul Scholes said was only one-third of what he said,” Rangnick remarked. “I think he said three different options. I don’t think that the players are not willing to do that, because they don’t like to give away points like the ones they gave away again.

“It was the third game we were 1-0 up and I don’t think anyone out there should believe that the players don’t care, that they like to experience things like that today. This is not the case.

“The question is with the group of players we have, how do we get more compact, more nasty when defending the lead. This is the major issue but it’s not a question of the players not wanting to do that.

“[The players] can be tough but the question is for what period of time and in which moments and if I see the game, the goal we conceded today, quite like at Burnley, it’s too easy. It was not even difficult for Burnley and Southampton to score these goals and against Middlesbrough it was similar.

“If you are being counter-attacked after being 1-0 up, it’s a question of tactical discipline and being aggressive in decisive moments and not allowing players to get past you.

“We are granting fewer goals than we did before, our average is less than one goal, it doesn’t help if you don’t score more than one goal.

“Today, after the first half-hour we should be 2-0 or 3-0 up, we again gave away too many clear-cut chances in the first-half, then it doesn’t make life any easier, more so against a team like Southampton who are on a good run, in good shape and in good shape.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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