Rangnick admits surprise at strength of Premier League

Ralf Rangnick admits the strength of teams at the bottom end of the Premier League took him by surprise as Man United struggle to hit form… as he says Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire should be fit for trip to Aston Villa

  • Manchester United visit Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday night
  • Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has admitted surprise at the league’s strength
  • United were lucky to win at Norwich and could only draw with Newcastle
  • They were pushed all the way by Aston Villa in the FA Cup and lost to Wolves 
  • Rangnick expects Ronaldo, Maguire, Phil Jones and Jadon Sancho to be fit 

Ralf Rangnick has been surprised by how hard it is to beat the Premier League’s smaller clubs during his short time as Manchester United’s interim boss.

Three of Rangnick’s first five Premier League games have been against the bottom three, with United lucky to overcome Norwich and take a point at Newcastle before beating Burnley.

They were also pushed all the way in the FA Cup at Old Trafford on Monday by 14th-placed Aston Villa, their opponents again in the league on Saturday.

Manchester United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick admits the strength of teams at the lower end of the Premier League has taken him by surprise

United are struggling to find their best form as they try and achieve a top four finish 

Rangnick admits he is more used to the status quo in Germany where clubs like Bayern Munich dominate and are rarely beaten by the Bundesliga minnows.

He said: ‘What has surprised me a little is that the teams in the lower ranks of the league are very physical, tactically astute and play in a very organised way.

‘In this league even against the bottom teams it is never easy, the top teams can lose those games.

‘In Germany, if Bayern play the bottom teams in 10 games they will ordinarily win eight or nine.’

Scott McTominay scored United’s winner as they overcame Aston Villa in the FA Cup last Monday – now they will meet again in the Premier League on Saturday

Man United fixtures 

Premier League unless stated    

Saturday  Aston Villa (A)

January 22 West Ham (H)

February Middlesbrough (H)

FA Cup fourth round 

February 8 Burnley (A) 

February 12 Southampton (H) 

February 20 Leeds United (A) 

Rangnick admits there is still a long way to go to turn United into a team that can dominate games in the way he wants.

He added: ‘I was fully aware this cannot happen overnight. It’s a work in progress but we have shown we have conceded fewer goals than a couple of weeks ago.

‘It’s also about controlling the game and obviously we have taken a few steps but things can still get better and we have to find the best possible formation.

‘We need to make sure we have the best, freshest players on the pitch and this means we can change formations during the game or from one game to another.

‘It’s still a work in progress and there are still quite a few things to improve.’

Rangnick expects Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire and Phil Jones to be fit for the trip to Villa Park after missing the cup win over Steven Gerrard’s side through injury.

‘I think they will be available,’ he said. ‘They only trained yesterday for the first time – Cristiano yesterday, Harry the day before yesterday. We have to wait for the final training session, but they should be available.’

Rangnick expects Cristiano Ronaldo to be fit enough to make the trip to Aston Villa

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