Ralph Rangnick has no intention of appointing Cristiano Ronaldo as Manchester United’s permanent captain after questioning the mentality of some of the club’s younger players.
In an interview on Thursday, Ronaldo said United’s younger players were not responding well to criticism and warned that if they did not improve on their level of performance, United would face a “nightmare” season.
United are seventh in the Premier League, 22 points behind leaders City, in a season they were set to challenge for the title.
The locker room dynamic is unrecognizable to the one that Ronaldo entered as a teenager in 2003 when United were the current champions. Harry Maguire’s position as captain has been regularly questioned amid his poor form this season and Ronaldo beat United in Maguire’s absence against Wolverhampton last week.
However, Rangnick said he is not about to strip the defender of the title. “At the moment I don’t see a reason to do that because Harry has been the leader until now and as long as Harry is playing he will be the leader. If he doesn’t play, someone else will have to be the leader. This can change from game to game depending on who’s just playing.
“We don’t just have Cristiano. Edinson, we have. Harry, we have, quite a few older players, David de Gea in goal, Victor Lindelof, Bruno [Fernandes]. We have enough older guys who can’t set an example for themselves in training, on the court and in games as well, but also in all those locker room conversations or when they’re together at the hotel for outdoor games or home games, that’s a must It is happening.
“In a team, in a unified team it happens automatically and I can just invite and challenge and tell all the players, as well as the older players, to do it on a regular basis because that helps more with the team that we have right now.”
Ronaldo stressed that United players must have the “right mentality” regardless of whether they accept or ignore his criticism if they are to have a successful run.
Rangnick did not dispute Ronaldo’s comments and believed that the individual players’ suffering was not due to a lack of effort, pointing to Marcus Rashford’s poor performance in the FA Cup third round win over Aston Villa.
“To talk about that, we need to discuss what mindset means,” Rangnick said. “Like I said, even now if one of our players in the game doesn’t do their best and put every effort into it, I will remedy that, you can rest assured of that. So far I haven’t seen that.”
“But with some players they started well. Talking about Marcus Rashford for example, I think in the first 20 minutes against Villa he was good, he was emotionally involved but then after the first 30 minutes it got worse and he didn’t play as energetic as he did in the half. I. – One hour, we need to talk about it.
“I do it regularly: does he need a helping hand? What does that require? So I don’t see any players who don’t care about the club or who don’t want to give their best and highest level possible.
“I think this has to happen in every training session and in every match, and of course it also has to do with what happens after situations during the match. If things don’t go the right way, you have to act a certain way and it’s also about being a role model, not just old people like Cristiano , but also the kids and how you deal with these situations.
“As a striker we all know – I wasn’t a striker as a player – but as a striker it’s all about playing well, scoring goals and getting assists and if it doesn’t happen in a while it won’t be that easy. As long as [Rashford is] Trying to give his best, and he did in training, there have been a few sessions in the last two weeks where he has trained at a really high level and that’s why I always gave him the chance to play again.
“As long as he does that, he will always be on my list to play and be in the starting lineup. Of course, it is about showing that he is on a regular basis and constantly playing at a high level, and again for him, there is still room for improvement The same goes for the other young players .
“We have a lot of great and talented players and that brings me back to what Cristiano said, we have to work and develop as a team together and if it is necessary to speak in a very direct way with the boys it helps me a lot, even in the locker room.
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“If Crisitano, for example, or any of the other players direct it to the players directly on the pitch or in the dressing room, they are welcome to do it. I will do it myself as coach and coaching staff in a pre- and post-match video that we do with the team and on the pitch. The pitch but we can’t develop individual players unless we develop the team’s performance, that’s the only way.
“This is about getting good results which will raise the level of confidence and then we can also develop the players individually, the opposite does not work.
“If you look back at the last six weeks since I came, I think in all the games, and you can see that against Aston Villa on Monday, every player did their best, they were fighting for each other, they were fighting to go through and move forward. to the next round.
“From my point of view, I think there is always room for improvement, you can still improve. But our younger players are very talented and we have enough older players, and in the end, it’s a team sport, it’s a game where they have to play together and the bigger players have to Our age and young players play as a team and have to be united on the pitch.”