Ralf Rangnick told his Manchester United players their effort in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle United was not up to scratch.
The interim manager was rattled by a sloppy performance from the visitors to St James’ Park, who fell behind to an early Allan Saint-Maximin strike and needed Edinson Cavani to come off the bench to salvage a point.
United have swiftly fallen back into their bad old ways since the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, sneaking a fortunate win in their last outing at Norwich City and being arguably fortunate to leave Tyneside with a point.
Former RB Leipzig boss Rangnick expected more from his players, and said of their performance: “I didn’t like it at all.
“We were trying to get better in controlling games. Today we didn’t control the game, apart from very few moments, at all.”
Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: “In the end we got a point, that’s the good thing, but the performance overall needs to get better.”
Rangnick began his reign with a 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace that gave him cause for encouragement, but the performances against lowly Norwich and Newcastle have raised cause for concern.
“It’s about physicality, it’s about energy. We have to be ready and able to win those direct duels and this was not that often the case,” he said.
“Even when we were in possession we had too many giveaways, including the goal that we conceded.”
Pundit and United great Gary Neville questioned the communication between United’s players, but Rangnick said: “Today it was not a question of body language, it was question of body physicality.
“If you want to be competitive here in this ground against Newcastle you have to play physical, and this was not the case in many parts of the game, and therefore we were struggling.”
There may be attitude issues that need to be looked at, yet Rangnick said: “I don’t think this was our biggest problem today. Our biggest problem was the mistakes we made, the unforced errors.”
He spoke of “wrong decisions” and said it was necessary to bring on Cavani for the start of the second half as United “had to take more risks”.
“We shouldn’t look for excuses,” said Rangnick, whose side had two games postponed recently due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
“We need to get more physical and more precise when we’re in possession. Today I was not happy with our performance, no matter if we were in possession of the ball or when we had to press and counter press.
“It’s about sprinting, it’s about energy. The good thing today is we came back and got the equaliser.”
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