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PREMIER LEAGUE

Ahead of Manchester derby, Rangnick says Utd must develop 'clear identity'

Ralf Rangnick's Manchester United tackle Manchester City on Sunday, with the interim boss seeing admirable qualities in the opposition.

Update:
Ahead of Manchester derby, Rangnick says Utd must develop 'clear identity'
Manchester United via Getty Images

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has identified the "secret" that has allowed Manchester City and Liverpool to streak so far ahead of Manchester United.

United's German manager sends his team out to tackle City in Sunday's derby, knowing the once-mighty Red Devils are again not a factor in the Premier League title race.

Their best hope appears to be clinging to fourth place and making progress in this season's Champions League, with Rangnick expected to vacate his position at the end of the campaign.

The 63-year-old German is a wily campaigner who can see what United are so obviously missing is the stability that City and Liverpool have enjoyed in recent years.

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are firmly established in their posts, having received extensive backing, and their teams are the clear big two in England for now.

Rangnick said of United's rivals: "They have a very clear identity and a clear idea of how they want to play, and I know Jurgen in person and I also know Pep from those three years in Germany when he was at Bayern Munich, and he also has a clear idea of how he wants to play.

"This idea is the headline for everything that happens in the club. This is the secret behind their success: that they exactly know how they want to play.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Watford - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 26, 2022 Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick
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Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Watford - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 26, 2022 Manchester United interim manager Ralf RangnickCRAIG BROUGHREUTERS

"They have a clear identity, or you could call it a corporate identity and this is their guideline for everything they do, not only for new players but also for staff members and experts in different areas of the game that have become more important in the last 10-15 years.

"This is what all clubs in Europe have in common. This is something that also at Manchester United needs to be developed and improved in the next couple of years."

Rangnick may yet have a role to play in establishing such a structure and ethos at United, with an advisory role potentially waiting for him.

For now, his focus is on the current first team and delivering short-term results. United's current eight-game unbeaten run is a positive trend, and if they stretch that to nine after Sunday's derby there will be considerably more cause for cheer.

The German boss said he has had no input so far regarding who the next manager might be, and played down his previous remarks that he might recommend himself to the board. He said he made those remarks "with a twinkle in my eye", suggesting they were not entirely serious.

Rangnick labelled Guardiola and Klopp "the two best coaches on the planet" and said: "You need to have the best possible people, and you need a clear idea of football, and then stick to that idea and take your decisions always with having in mind, 'what do we want to be, how do we want to play?'."

The former RB Leipzig boss said United would need to show "tactical discipline" to stand up to City's threat.

"It will be a lot of defensive work necessary, a lot of sprinting, running, against the ball and with the ball, waiting for transitional moments and taking our chances," he said.

"This is what it's all about I think. We created enough chances in the last 10-11 games, and at times we converted them, like at Leeds where we scored four goals, but it's correct we should have scored more goals, especially in the last match against Watford."

That clash with the Hornets at Old Trafford finished goalless, which was hardly the morale-boosting result United might have wanted before facing the Premier League leaders this weekend.

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