By Mike McGrath
Ralf Rangnick says Edinson Cavani is pushing for a return to the Manchester United starting line-up to get his team firing again.
United have failed to score more than one goal in Rangnick’s four games as interim manager.
The Uruguay forward, 34, came off the bench to rescue a point at St James’ Park and is close to a first start in two months after experiencing from a tendon problem.
“truly, in the two days before Newcastle, I was considering to play him from the start,” said Rangnick. “I spoke with him those days and he didn’t feel comfortable playing from the beginning because he didn’t know how fit he really was.
“Being 1-0 down at half-time, it was clear to me we needed to take more risks and to change something. That’s why we decided to bring him and Jadon [Sancho] on at half-time.”
Rangnick said he did not like what he saw during the draw with Newcastle and that he has not made as much progress as he wanted during his month in charge, largely down to the Covid-19 sudden increase at the club meaning he has not spent time on the training pitches.
“Of course not,” said Rangnick, when asked if he was happy with progress. “Every ambitious coach, and there is no difference between other coaches and myself in that area, wants to take faster steps and larger steps forward.
“But in order to do that, you need to be able to aim and, as you know, we had to close Carrington for four days.
“Before that we had eight or nine field players in training directly after the Norwich game and then they only came back in small bits and pieces.
“The three days before Newcastle we were almost back to complete strength with regard to the size of the squad but we couldn’t do that much in training.
“however, in those two or three training sessions, the team looked good, consequently it really was a bit of a negative surprise the way that we played with regard to game speed and game tempo and physicality.”
Raphael Varane made an error for Newcastle’s goal, while Harry Maguire struggled. Rangnick has also recalled Eric Bailly as cover after initially allowing him to prepare for the African Cup of Nations early in Ivory Coast.
“Raphael has not played for the last five or six weeks. already before the Tottenham game he was injured, so in the last three months he hasn’t played that many games,” said Rangnick.
“Yes, he made a mistake before the first goal we conceded but except that I think he was OK. I wouldn’t say he was noticeable, the same with Harry. But he did OK.
“Our problem was that we allowed too many transitional moments. This is not only a problem of the centre-backs, it is a problem of the whole team. It starts up front.
“The role of the No10s in that kind of formation. I don’t think it makes sense today to speak about the individual performance of players. We need to get better as a team.”
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