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Ralf Rangnick insists Man Utd need to be ‘more aggressive and even more nasty’

Manchester United v Southampton – Premier League – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Ralf Rangnick wants more aggression and nastiness from his players after Manchester United blew another half-time lead on an afternoon when Southampton threatened to take all three points.

A year on from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer overseeing a 9-0 win against Saints at an empty Old Trafford, his interim successor saw the Red Devils squander Jadon Sancho’s first-half goal on Saturday lunchtime.

Che Adams fired home an impressive equaliser shortly after half-time and Saints had chances to snatch a rare win at United, whose profligacy in front of goal led to a third successive match ending 1-1.

United great Paul Scholes suggested on Saturday that the players did not want to put a shift in for the club – something Rangnick rejected, saying it is more about the group’s mentality.

“I think what Paul Scholes said was only one third of what he said – I think he said three different options,” Rangnick said.

“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 today again.

“It was the third game where 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 consecutively. This is definitely not the case.

“The question is with the group of players we have, how do we get more compact, more aggressive and even more nasty, it’s about defending a lead.

Cristiano Ronaldo chats to Jack Stephens

Manchester United had to settle for a point (Martin Rickett/PA)

“This is the major issue but it’s not a question of the players not wanting to do that.”

Picked up on his comment about nastiness he said, Rangnick added: “Well, they can be tough but the question is for what period of time and in which moments.

“Again, if I see the game, the goal we conceded today, quite like at Burnley, it’s just too easy. It’s too easy.

“It was not even difficult for Burnley and today for Southampton to score these goals, and against Middlesbrough it was similar.

Che Adams celebrates

Che Adams struck in the second half (Martin Rickett/PA)

“If you are being counter-attacked after being 1-0 up, this is also a question of tactical discipline and being aggressive in the decisive moments and just don’t allow the players to go past you.”

Rangnick also underlined United’s issues turning chances into goals as Cristiano Ronaldo’s barren spell stretched to a sixth match.

“Our team with a lot of technical players, with a lot offensively behaving and thinking players, for them it is difficult to stay compact for a longer period of time, for the whole game,” he said.

“This is one of our problems. The other is that we don’t take enough advantage of the chances that we create. Today we had an expected goals ratio of 2.57 to 0.7 of Southampton.”

Rangnick will hope for a response when United host Brighton on Tuesday night, while former RB Leipzig colleague Ralph Hasenhuttl enjoys some well-deserved downtime after a memorable few days.

Adams followed up Wednesday’s match-winner in the 3-2 victory at Tottenham with the leveller at Old Trafford, where Saints impressed for large parts.

“It is enjoyable to watch and I think the guys love to play football in the moment,” said Hasenhuttl, who claimed that “it’s not a big secret that when (United) lose the ball their reverse gear is not always the best”.

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“Every week they are really switched on and I think we have shown that we can play a good game. From 0-9 to 1-1, I think that is more than enough! It was nearly one year ago we lost here in a game where we had no chance.

“But we are a different team, we have now much more options with all the players we tried to keep at the club and signed in the summer.

“I think we had a good transfer window and the rest is about working every day on your habits and qualities. I think we have shown we are getting better.”

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