Ralf Rangnick has admitted he has not made as much progress as he might have hoped in stamping his authority on Manchester United.
Despite being unbeaten in four games in all competitions since replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the Old Trafford helm on an interim basis, the highly-rated German coach has been frustrated in his efforts to implement his methods by the Covid-19 lay-off which saw his side not play for 16 days before Monday night’s 1-1 Premier League draw at struggling Newcastle.
Asked if he had achieved as much as he had wanted to in his initial weeks in charge, Rangnick said: “Of course not.
“Every coach, every ambitious coach – and there’s no difference between other coaches and myself in that area – wants to take faster steps and larger steps forward.
“But in order to do that, you need to be able to train.
“As you know, we had to close Carrington for four days. Before that we had eight or nine outfield players in training, so directly after the Norwich game, and they only came back in small bits and pieces.
“The last three days we were almost back to full strength with regard to the size of the squad, but we couldn’t do that much in training.
“On the other hand, in those two-three training sessions, the team looked good and therefore it was really a bit of a, in Monday’s game, negative surprise, the way that we played with regard to game speed, game tempo and physicality.”
The Red Devils misfired alarmingly on Tyneside as a lack of cohesion in attack and uncertainty at the back very nearly cost them, and they head into Thursday evening’s home clash with Burnley with something to prove.
Central defender Raphael Varane made his first appearance since November 2 at St James’ Park in a central defensive partnership with Harry Maguire which was far from convincing, a fact which will not have gone unnoticed by Clarets boss Sean Dyche and strikers Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez.
However, Rangnick said: “Rafa hasn’t played for the last five or six weeks and even before the Tottenham game, he was injured, so in total in the last three months, he hasn’t played that many games.
“Yes, he made a mistake before the first goal that we conceded, but apart from that, I think he was OK. I wouldn’t say that he was outstanding and the same with Harry, but they did OK.
“Our problem was again that we allowed too many transitional moments and this is not only a problem of the centre-backs, it’s a problem of the whole team.”
Defender Victor Lindelof missed the game at Newcastle after testing positive for coronavirus, but striker Edinson Cavani marked his return from a tendon injury having also been out of action since November 2 with the equaliser after coming off the bench.