Ralf Rangnick says Cristiano Ronaldo is not to blame for Manchester United’s lack of goals as the interim manager called for the side to find their cutting edge against Southampton.
Profligacy in front of goal twice proved costly in the last week as the Red Devils failed to capitalise on dominant first halves in the shock FA Cup exit to Middlesbrough and Tuesday’s 1-1 league draw at rock-bottom Burnley.
United have scored more than once in just three of their nine league matches under interim boss Rangnick, while star name Ronaldo has gone five games without a goal in all competitions.
The top-four hopefuls desperately need something to click in front of goal on Saturday lunchtime against Saints, who were beaten 9-0 on their last visit to Old Trafford.
“It’s not only about Cristiano Ronaldo,” said Rangnick, who brushed aside reports of player dissatisfaction with training and some apparently likening assistant Chris Armas to fictional American coach Ted Lasso.
“I mean, that we should score more goals is obvious. I think we are creating enough chances and enough opportunities in the last couple of games but we just didn’t score enough goals.
“But this is not only an issue with Cristiano, it’s also an issue with all the other players, especially with the offensive players, that we do not score enough goals if you bear in mind how many chances we create.
“This is also something that needs to get better in the next couple of weeks.
“What we played in both first halves and even at Burnley I would say in 70 of those 90 minutes, it was very, very, very close to the game plan that we had spoken about before the game.
“And now it’s about rewarding ourselves and getting also the results that we should deserve.”
United enter the weekend sixth in the Premier League standings following a poor draw at Burnley, where captain Harry Maguire’s role in the equaliser has led to renewed scrutiny.
“I think he had an outstanding game against West Ham, like all the rest of our backline,” Rangnick said.
“Against Middlesbrough, we didn’t give away that many chances and at Burnley, yes, we could have defended that transitional moment better than we did.
“In the end, it was a negative chain reaction… and when (Wout) Weghorst got the ball we were two versus one.
“It was Harry and Scotty (McTominay) against him and of course we should not have allowed him to go through that in that very moment but that can happen.
“Harry was injured, he had a two and a half weeks injury. Then he came back and had a very good game against West Ham and I’m pretty sure that he can perform on the same kind of level tomorrow against Southampton.”
Rangnick is expecting a tough afternoon against Saints, who head to Old Trafford buoyed by Wednesday’s deserved 3-2 triumph under his former RB Leipzig colleague Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“We are fully aware that this will be a difficult one,” the interim boss said.
“Obviously I watched the game at Spurs during the week and they really deserved to win, they tactically played on a very high level and this will be a challenge for us.
“But I’m sure that we’re up for that challenge. We will prepare the team again today for what is on and what we have to do for tomorrow’s game. We have to win the game, that’s for sure.
“We are fully aware that we did well in both first halves against Middlesbrough and Burnley, but now against Southampton – and the same will be true on Tuesday against Brighton – we need top performances for the whole game.
“I’ve known (Hasenhuttl) now for six or seven years and he has developed in those years.
“It’s obvious, you can see what he did with Southampton, he also did a great job at Leipzig, finishing second in the first year in the Bundesliga and sixth in the second year.
“What he has now achieved with Southampton is just great, excellent. Excellent coach, I know his assistant coach, Richard Kitzbichler, very well.
“They are a doing a great job, both of them, but it doesn’t help. We need the three points tomorrow and this is what it’s all about.”
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