Rangnick urges United players to be physical amid fitness levels questions

Ralf Rangnick has called on his Manchester United players to “show some physicality” after question marks were raised about the squad’s fitness levels.

The Reds have let slip a 1-0 lead in three consecutive games with the latest being at Old Trafford on Saturday, in the 1-1 draw against Southampton.

Saints boss, Ralph Hasenhuttl, who was RB Leipzig boss when Rangnick was the club’s sporting director, doesn’t believe that the Red Devils possess the fitness levels to successfully adopt Rangnick’s intense, pressing and physical style of play for the full 90 minutes.

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Speaking on Match of the Day, Hasenhuttl said: “At the beginning when they’re fresh it’s good because it works. The problem I think they have is that they’re are not use to doing it for 90 minutes and this is a very offensive way of playing football and this is hard stuff.”

Hasenhuttl was also quoted by Talksport: “It’s not a big secret that when they lose the ball the reverse gears are not the best from everyone.”

Rangnick was appointed as the club’s interim boss in November and didn’t have the luxury of having a full pre-season with the United squad.

The 63-year-old isn’t sure whether the current squad has the capabilities to instil his high intensity philosophy, but he doesn’t believe the squad is unfit.

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“To be honest, I don’t know if we are not fit enough to play that way [with high intensity] because I came in the middle of the season,” said Rangnick via the club’s official website.

“We had no pre-season and, in essence, maybe only two weeks in total where we could train in the normal way.

“If I watch the team in training and the way this team prepare for games, I wouldn’t allow myself to say we are not fit enough to play like that. I don’t think this is the case because then we would also struggle in the last 20 minutes of a game.

“Against Burnley and against Southampton, I think we showed we were physically able to play forward.”

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As well as needing to make better decisions, Rangnick believes his “technical” crop of players need to become more physical to win games.

Rangnick added: “We didn’t always take the right decisions. We were not as composed and structured enough in the way we played in the first half. Compared to the last half-hour, we were a little bit erratic in those moments.

“I would have wished us to stay a little bit calmer and cooler but we had the chances. I don’t think it is a question of physicality, with regards to fitness, yes it might well be – as I’ve said, the players that we have are technical players.

“They like to play technical football but, in the Premier League, no matter against which team, more so against teams like Southampton, you cannot win games only in a technical way. You have to show some physicality.”

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.