Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick brushed off criticism of his players’ body language instead insisting their problem was physicality in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle United.
United needed substitute Edinson Cavani’s 71st-minute strike to earn a point away to the struggling Magpies who went ahead early from Allan Saint-Maximin.
Former United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was scathing of the side’s performance but also the “whinging” body language of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes’ specifically.
But the German boss brushed off that criticism, calling it a “side effect” from other issues.
“I don’t think today it was a problem of body language,” Rangnick said during the post-game news conference. “It was a question of physicality, meeting the demands with regard to speed, tempo and physicality.
“The side effect is the body language afterwards. I don’t think that was the major problem for us today.
“The major problem was the way we played in those moments when it was about physicality.”
Neville was forthright in his criticism of the Portuguese pair in particular, insisting more is needed from the side’s senior and better players.
“Yeah, it’s annoyed me for about two months,” Neville said on Sky Sports. “Your best players in your team, it’s devastating when those players are giving that look and body language towards the other ones. They have to help them and be the father and the grandparent in the team.
“I made massive mistakes as a young player at Manchester United but had good senior players who would have a go at me, but they would also put their arm around me and help me and I don’t get the feeling that’s happening.
“I think there’s something wrong in there. Bruno’s whingeing all the time. You’ve got to be there when your team-mates need you in the most difficult moments.”
Prior to last night’s game, Ralf confirmed @VLindelof has tested positive for COVID-19.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 28, 2021
Rangnick also refused to use United’s recent COVID-19 outbreak as an excuse, which saw two games postponed and the side not play since the 1-0 win over Norwich City on December 11.
“It’s also a question of rhythm, but we shouldn’t look for excuses – we need to get better and get more physical and more precise when we’re in possession of the ball,” Rangnick said.
“I was not happy with our performance with the ball or when we had to press and counter-press. It’s about sprinting, about energy and what kind of energy mode do we play with the ball and against the ball.
“In three days, we have the next game at home against Burnley and then another, four days later, when we play Wolves at home, so both games are in our own stadium.
“We can do better, I know the players can play better than we did today, but we have to do it and sustainably do it on the pitch in those two home games if we want to get the points.”
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