Ralf Rangnick admits the strength of teams at the bottom of the Premier League surprised him with Man United struggling to find form as they aim for a top four place… as he says Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire fit should be for the trip to Aston Villa
- Manchester United visit Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday evening
- Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has admitted his surprise at the strength of the competition
- United were lucky enough to win at Norwich and could only draw with Newcastle
- They were pushed all the way by Aston Villa in the FA Cup and lost to Wolves
- Rangnick expects Ronaldo, Maguire, Phil Jones and Jadon Sancho to be fit
Ralf Rangnick has been surprised by how difficult it is to beat the smaller clubs of the Premier League during his brief stint as interim boss of Manchester United.
Three of Rangnick’s first five Premier League games have been against the bottom three, with United being lucky enough to beat Norwich and take a point at Newcastle before beating Burnley.
They were also pushed all the way into the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Monday by 14th-seeded Aston Villa, their opponents back in the competition on Saturday.
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick admits the strength of teams at the bottom of the Premier League surprised him
United struggle to find their best form as they try to finish in the top four
Rangnick admits he is more used to the status quo in Germany, where clubs like Bayern Munich dominate and are rarely beaten by the Bundesliga roach.
He said: “What surprised me a little bit is that the teams in the lower ranks of the league are very physical, tactically astute and play in a very organized way.
“In this competition it is never easy even against the bottom teams, the top teams can lose those matches.
“When Bayern in Germany play against the bottom teams in ten games, they usually win eight or nine.”
Scott McTominay scored United’s winner when they defeated Aston Villa in the FA Cup last Monday – now they will meet again on Saturday in the Premier League
Man United match schedule
Premier League unless otherwise stated
Saturday Aston Villa (A)
January 22 West Ham (H)
February 4 Middelburg (H)
FA Cup fourth round
February 8th Burnley (A)
12th of February Southampton (H)
February 20 Leeds United (A)
Rangnick admits there is still a long way to go to make United a team that can dominate games the way he wants.
He added: “I was fully aware that this cannot happen overnight. It is a work in progress, but we have shown that we have conceded fewer goals than a few weeks ago.
“It’s also about control of the game and of course we’ve made some strides, but there’s still room for improvement and we need to find the best formation possible.
“We need to make sure we have the best, freshest players on the pitch and this means we can change formations during the game or from one game to the next.
‘It is still a work in progress and there are still a lot of things to improve on.’
Rangnick expects Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire and Phil Jones to be fit for the trip to Villa Park after missing out on the cup win over Steven Gerrard’s side through injury.
“I think they will be available,” he said. “They only trained for the first time yesterday – Cristiano yesterday, Harry the day before yesterday. We have to wait for the last training, but it should be there.’
Rangnick expects Cristiano Ronaldo to be fit enough to make the trip to Aston Villa