Ronaldo backs Rangnick to do 'good job' but demands Man Utd aim for third

By Sports Desk January 12, 2022

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Ralf Rangnick will do a "good job" as interim manager, but the Portugal forward will not accept Manchester United aiming for anything less than third place.

Rangnick's appointment – until the end of the season before taking on a consultancy role – was initially praised as evidence United were attempting to modernise as a club, implementing a brand of football and identity that has been so successful elsewhere.

The German had been deemed the so-called "godfather of gegenpressing" and was seen by many as a shrewd hire given his reputation of developing clubs in the past both as a coach and a director.

But, even though United have only lost one of his seven matches in charge across all competitions, their performances have left a lot to be desired, and the idea of a collective and concerted pressing effort appears to remain foreign.

Prior to Rangnick's first game, United averaged 7.6 high turnovers per game in the Premier League – in his first two matches they recorded 12 and 11, respectively.

A trend emerged there, as the only occasion this season United had previously recorded more than 12 (13) was in Michael Carrick's first match against Chelsea. It would seem to be the classic 'new manager bounce' as they soon fell back into their old ways.

United's high turnover average under Rangnick in the league remains virtually identical (7.6) to what it was before, while they managed just three in Monday's fortunate 1-0 FA Cup win over Aston Villa, suggesting his ideas in that regard simply are not getting across.

But Ronaldo is calling for patience, telling Sky Sports: "Since he arrived five weeks ago, he changed many things. But he needs time to put his ideas across to the players.

"It takes time, but I believe that he is going to do a good job. We know we aren't playing the best football, but we have many games to improve.

"Since he arrived I think in some points we are better, but he needs time. It's not that easy to change the mentality of players and the way they play, the culture, the system like that. I believe that he is going to do a good job.

"We have to be together. We're in the same boat. We have to believe that it is possible but like I said we have a long way to go."

United face Villa again on Saturday in the Premier League – a victory could potentially see them end the weekend three points behind fourth-placed West Ham, who have played two extra games.

Missing out on the top four would be a major blow to United given the amount of money spent in pre-season, though Ronaldo feels even fourth would be unacceptable.

Asked if they can reach the top four even without the correct attitude, Ronaldo said: "Impossible – I think it's the main point.

"I don't accept that our mentality be less than being in the top three in the Premier League.

"I think to build up good things, sometimes you have to destroy a few things. So why not – new year, new life and I hope that we can be the level that the fans want. They deserve that.

"We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I'm not going to mention it here because I don't think it's ethical on my part to say that.

"What I can say is we can do better – all of us. Manchester United belongs to important things, so we have to change that.

"I don't want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I'm here to try to win, to compete.

"I think we compete but we are not yet in our best level. But we have a long way to improve and I believe if we change our mind, we can achieve big things."

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    France international Benzema largely watched on as Liverpool bombarded Madrid's goal in the first half at the Stade de France on Saturday.

    Jurgen Klopp's Reds attempted five shots on target in the opening 45 minutes, as many as Liverpool had mustered in their previous two Champions League finals combined (two in 2018 and three in 2019).

    During that first-half rearguard display in Paris, Benzema saw a goal ruled out shortly before the interval after being adjudged to stray offside inside the area.

    But Vinicius Junior delivered the decisive strike just before the hour, while Thibaut Courtois thwarted Liverpool as Madrid held on for a record-extending 14th European Cup, more than double any other side.

    Benzema became just the second French captain to lift the trophy, after Didier Deschamps with Marseille in 1993, and the Madrid talisman was quick to salute his side.

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    The Galacticos were joined in the VIP seats by Rafael Nadal, midway through his crusade for a 14th French Open title.

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    Ancelotti reigns – "I am a record man," he told BT Sport at full-time.

    Benzema reigns – it was not his night but could have been.

    The Frenchman had a goal ruled out for offside just before half-time, after a three-and-a-half-minute wait for a VAR verdict. Deciphering that moment was as challenging as the task of unravelling the Agatha Christie footballers' wives court saga, and it caused almost as much soapbox frothing on social media.

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    At full-time, former Liverpool and Madrid striker Michael Owen said of Jurgen Klopp's Reds: "I still think they're the team to beat... the most fearsome team in Europe".

    Owen was in Paris, at pitchside even, but must have missed the news. Madrid reign again.

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