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Ralf Rangnick has urged his underperforming Manchester United players to start delivering home truths to each other like Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo warned this week that United’s “nightmare” season will continue unless the squad sort out their attitude problem. And Rangnick believes other players should feel free to take Ronaldo’s lead by not being afraid to speak their minds in the dressing room.
“We have so many top, talented players and it brings me back to what Cristiano said – we have to work and develop as a team together and if it’s necessary to speak in a very direct manner to the boys, it helps a lot, even in the locker room,” the interim United manager said ahead of Saturday’s game at Aston Villa. “If Cristiano, for example, or any of the other players address that to the players directly on the pitch or in the dressing room they are more than welcome to do that.
“I will do that myself as a coach – and my coaching staff in the pre-and-post match video – but we can only develop individual players if we develop the performances of the team. It’s not only Cristiano, we have Edinson [Cavani], we have Harry [Maguire], we have quite a few other older players, David de Gea in goal, Victor Lindelof, Bruno [Fernandes].
“We have enough experienced older players who can not only be role models in training, on the pitch and in games, but also in all those conversations that happen in the locker room or when they are together in the hotel for away games or home games. This has to happen. In a united team, that happens automatically and I can only invite and challenge and tell all the players, also the older players, to do that on a regular basis because that helps even more so in a team that we have currently.”
Ronaldo appeared to question whether some younger players could accept criticism and encouraged them to heed advice from more experienced members of the squad. Rangnick agreed there needed to be a shift in mentality at the club and urged the young players to be as professional as possible in their battle for a top four finish.
“I think this has to happen in every single training session and in every single game and, of course, it’s also about what happens after situations during the game,” Rangnick said. “If things don’t go the right way you have to behave in a certain manner. It’s also about being role models – not only the older ones like Cristiano but also the younger ones and how you deal with those situations. In the end it’s a team sport … where we have to play together and the older players and the young players have to play as a team and have to be united on the pitch.”
Rangnick said he would pull any player whom he felt was not trying hard enough. “If one of our players in the game doesn’t give his very best and put all the effort into it then I will address that, you can be assured of that. So far I haven’t seen that, ” he said.
Alan Shearer has reached out to Marcus Rashford in a bid to help the England striker through his acute slump in form and Rangnick said he was keeping an eye on the player. “I think in the first 20 minutes against Villa [in the FA Cup on Monday] he was good, he was on fire, he was emotionally involved but then after the first 30 minutes he got worse and he didn’t play on the same kind of energetic level,” Rangnick said.
“We need to speak about that. I do that regularly. Does he need a helping hand? What does that take? So I don’t see any of the players who don’t care about the club or who don’t want to perform to the best and highest possible level.”