Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has directed some strong words to his defenders after their near capitulation against Norwich on Saturday.
Rangnick’s side were 2-0 up in the first half thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo brace, but on the stroke of half-time, Norwich pulled one back and seven minutes into the second half, they drew level. This was only the second time Norwich scored more than one goal in an away game this season.
A stunning free kick from Ronaldo to complete his hat-trick – his 60th career hat-trick and his second of the season – spared United’s blushes from dropping points for the second time in the season to the Premier League’s worst team.
Rangnick is running out of patience with his defence, with most of his post-match comments centering on their performances. They gave him something to talk about again on Saturday and the German’s comments this time were harsher than his previous criticisms.
Rangnick said to Sky Sports: “If you look at the two goals we conceded, especially the first one, we had the ball on the sideline but we were just not physical enough. As soon as there is body contact we have to be more physical, more aggressive, but we weren’t.
“It was, for me, too easy, and that’s why we are probably the only team in the league who concedes goals like this.”
The German, who has reportedly begun to carry out his consultancy duties ahead of next season and is advocating for an overhaul of the defence, stopped short of saying his defenders were unintelligent in his post-match comments.
He said: “We should have defended in a smarter way and not allowed them to have two or three transitional moments with playing three versus two or four versus two.
“To be honest, Norwich could have scored earlier than we did concede the first goal. We could have conceded a goal earlier than that and that’s why I’m not really happy with our performance when we were not in possession of the ball.”
Rangnick then reminisced on past matches in which his defence almost cost the side the game. “If I just think about the games since I arrived, how many games we have been 1-0 and 2-0 up and in the end only got a point. I mean, this is easily six, eight points that we should have easily had more,” he said.
“But this brings us back to the same situation that we just didn’t defend well enough in moments like this. And [had it not been for] David de Gea with a brilliant save, we could have been 3-2 down and then probably even have lost the game and this should not happen.
“If you want to defend properly in this league, you just have to be physical, you shouldn’t just allow them to go past ourselves and through our lines like that.
“That’s what this team doesn’t do well enough, and that’s why we’re still mathematically in the race but we should have easily had eight points more.”