Ralf Rangnick has earmarked improving the defence at Manchester United as the main priority for success at Old Trafford.
The former RB Leipzig head coach has overseen two games since his arrival in Manchester, winning his first against Crystal Palace – becoming the first of six German managers to win their opening Premier League game – before a 1-1 draw against Young Boys.
While Rangnick fielded a youthful side against the Swiss team, United have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five home group-stage matches – their longest run in the Champions League.
United also went 15 consecutive home matches without a clean sheet, their longest run without a shutout since a 21-game spell between 1958 and 1959, before keeping Palace at bay in the 1-0 win last Sunday.
That poor period of defensive form has left them 11 points off the early pace of leaders Manchester City and Rangnick explained that he is prioritising finding a solution to be more resolute at the back.
“So far, I’m more than happy with their attitude again and their eagerness to learn information that will help them get better, not only against the ball but also with the ball,” Rangnick told Sky Sports on Friday.
“We had only two clean sheets until the Crystal Palace game and no clean sheets since last April at Old Trafford, it was very clear for me where our focus should be for the first few days and weeks.
“With this group of players we can produce more clean sheets regularly, we are making sure we don’t concede goals or even allow them to shoot on our goal.
“The more we do that, the more I am convinced that we can win games because with this group and players we are always going to create chances and opportunities to score ourselves.”
United travel to Norwich City on Saturday in Rangnick’s first away Premier League fixture, with none of the last four permanent Red Devils managers losing their maiden such game since Alex Ferguson in 1986.
New Norwich head coach Dean Smith is looking to become the first manager since Andy Aitken in 1908-09 to defeat United with two different clubs in a single season, having already tasted victory with former club Aston Villa.
But Smith has revealed the club are waiting anxiously on coronavirus tests for a couple of players ahead of the game at Carrow Road.
“We have got a couple of knocks and have got a couple of Covid-related issues that we are waiting on results for,” said Smith.
“I can’t really let you in on any names, but there’s a couple of players who we are worried about, so we have tested and we will wait for the PCR results.
“They are just feeling a little bit unwell, but it is not likely to be linked to the game last week with Tottenham.”
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