Ralf Rangnick is clear a lack of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United’s other forwards in recent games has cost the team victory.
United have managed a single strike in each of their past three matches, drawing two – 1-1 against Middlesbrough, who beat them on penalties, and Burnley – and winning one, 1-0 against West Ham. There have been 14 United goals in Rangnick’s 11 matches as interim manager.
“It’s not only about Cristiano Ronaldo,” he said. “That we should score more goals, it’s obvious. We created enough chances in the last couple of games but we just didn’t score enough goals. This is not only an issue with Cristiano – it’s an issue with other players, especially with the offensive players: we don’t score enough goals.
“If you bear in mind how many chances we create, it needs to get better in the coming weeks. In the first half against Burnley, we were very close to the gameplan we spoke about before the game. Now it’s about rewarding ourselves with the results we deserve.”
Rangnick is also concerned regarding how his side react when the opposition score. “We conceded against Middlesbrough after [about] 60 minutes and Burnley 50; then, we should stick to the gameplan, not lose shape, composure – this was the most harmful part.
“We didn’t have the same positioning on the pitch and this is what we spoke about when we analysed the Burnley game. If the other team scores a goal we have to be aware of why we were so dominant and not lose structure, lose shape. This was obviously what occurred for 15, 20 minutes versus Burnley. It got better at the end but in those minutes we lost that shape.”
Rangnick believes this is a question of focus. “It’s a psychological, mental issue when you’re aware of how much you’ve dominated the games and all of a sudden it’s not 2-0 or 3-0 to us but 1-1,” he said. “This affects the psychological momentum.”
The German stated that a corollary of this was his midfielders Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay going in search of the ball rather than maintaining their respective areas.
At the final whistle at Burnley Ronaldo ran off the pitch while his teammates waited to shake hands and acknowledge the travelling support. Rangnick was asked whether he preferred not to see this from any player. “Yes but Cristiano, as we all know, is 37 – he knows himself what he should do and what he has to do,” said Rangnick. “Our focus is on those things we can influence and develop. Maybe he was also disappointed that we only got a draw and that he didn’t score.”
Rangnick defended Harry Maguire, who has been criticised for recent displays. “I think he had an outstanding game against West Ham – like all the rest of our backline,” he said. “Against Middlesbrough, we didn’t give that many chances away and against Burnley we could have defended that transitional moment better [for their goal] but it was a negative chain reaction like most teams concede – we shouldn’t have allowed him [the goalscorer Jay Rodriguez] to go through