RALF RANGNICK admits the level of expectation at Manchester United is too much for some of his players.
After losing to relegation-threatened Everton last week, the Red Devils now face rock-bottom Norwich at Old Trafford today with fans in open revolt.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be keen to return to form against NorwichCredit: Getty
Ralf Rangnick did not hold back in his honest assessment of how things are goingCredit: Getty
They are planning protests against the performances and the owners.
And interim boss Rangnick admits some of his players are suffering.
He said: “It might be with one or two or three of our players.
“It seems to be like that, that the level of expectation is high and some of the players seem to struggle with their own performance.
“But, again, there are no alibis and no excuses. We have to be ready to cope and deal with it.
“I’m sure they are fully aware of that and I’m convinced and very positive that all the players know about this. It’s a test of character and mentality.”
For a club who were recently battling for a top-four spot, United face losing in successive games to teams trying to beat the drop — something Rangnick says should not be happening.
He claimed: “It should be unthinkable but we all know in football that things like that can happen.
“We saw that even in the European cup games and in other leagues.
“We saw it this week that things like that can happen but this is what makes this ball game so interesting.
“You never know what the outcome will be.
“I’m pretty positive we will have a reaction against Norwich. This has to happen and we owe it to ourselves and our supporters — and we owe that to the whole club.
“It’s a test of character but we have to invest enough energy into the game with regard to total distance sprints, fast runs.
“We will give them the best possible game-plan and we will try to with regard to line-up and formation.
“Then it’s up to the players to show that they’re still ambitious and that they want to finish the season on the highest and best possible note.”
Rangnick said last week’s defeat at Goodison Park was unacceptable in terms of intensity and running stats.
He said: “We’re fully aware and we all agree that this is the league with the highest intensity in Europe.
“That’s why I was very disappointed with the game against Everton, that we were second best in all the statistics with regard to total distance, fast runs, sprints…
“This is just not acceptable. This should not happen again any more no matter which team we are playing.
“But whatever I think or you think was the reason behind the performance at Everton, we have to be able to, in our house, beat a team like Norwich and show the best possible performance. But the truth and reality is on the pitch.”
Despite the increasingly sorry end to United’s season that threatens to see them finish out of the European places, Rangnick says he does not regret taking over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on an interim basis.
He said: “No. No regrets whatsoever. I would do it over and over again.
“You always have to ask yourself what you could have done better. ‘What if I could have played with a different formation in certain games? Could a substitution have been done earlier?’
“This is what always happens. We always ask questions of ourselves, what we could have done better.
I’m not happy at all with what we’ve done and achieved so far
“I think we are all aware it’s not an easy squad, the whole situation was not easy or I would not be sitting here and Ole would probably still be here.
“We have shown in the past couple of months we were able to raise the level but not in the same sustainable way that I would have wished.
“That’s the reason I’m not happy at all with what we’ve done and achieved so far.”
However, Rangnick insists his reign since taking charge of his first game on December 5 has not all been bad.
He said: “If I can think about games we played against Crystal Palace, West Ham, Tottenham, Leeds, and until the 70th minute against Aston Villa, we had quite a few games we played well as a team.
“What we couldn’t do is do it in a sustainable way and for a longer period of time.
“I’m disappointed by that. I thought we could have played sustainably on a higher level.
“I’m not happy with that for sure but this is what we will try to do for the rest of the season.”
Rangnick is without five players for today’s game with Fred, Scott McTominay, Raphael Varane, Edinson Cavani and Luke Shaw all injured.
Shaw is likely to miss the rest of the season after having screws removed from his leg from an injury suffered in 2015.
MANCHESTER UNITED (likely): De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles, Pogba, Matic, Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford, Ronaldo.
United are hoping to avoid back-to-back defeats to relegation contendersCredit: Getty
Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Jadon Sancho could all featureCredit: Getty