Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick was critical of his team for lacking intensity and physicality in Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League win over Norwich at Carrow Road.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot but it needed United goalkeeper David de Gea to be on top form to stop the Canaries from grabbing an equaliser from multiple opportunities.
Compared to how United had played against Crystal Palace in Rangnick’s first game in charge last weekend, the team appeared sluggish, leaving the German coach to admit that not all the players on the pitch physically competed as he would have hoped.
“In the second half, we had better body language up front [than the first half] but still allowed them too many chances and corners. In the end, it was David de Gea who made sure it was a clean sheet,” Rangnick told Sky Sports after the final whistle.
“It’s about intensity of the game, physicality, body language. If you want to keep control of a game like this one, you have to be physically present and this was not the case in all positions.”
Rangnick suggested that because United players were denied the opportunity to win the game through superior ability alone, they should have been more prepared to engage in a physical battle.
“Some of our players are technical players and today there was not much space for technical solutions. You need to be physically brave and compete on that kind of level, with regard to physicality, and this was something that we didn’t do in all positions,” he said.
“It was not deliberate. We intended to play like [against Crystal Palace]. But it was an away game today and the other team played much more aggressive than Crystal Palace did against us and therefore we need to raise our level of intensity in games like that.
“It’s not only a question of individual players, it’s how we play together as a team. It’s question about who wins balls, what about the second balls? In each position it was not the same.”