Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick has dismissed criticism of his players’ body language, instead insisting that their problem is physique in Monday’s 1-1 draw against Newcastle United.
United needed Edinson Cavani’s 71st-minute strike to score a point against the struggling Magpies, who took the lead over Allan Saint-Maximin.
Former United defender and Sky Sports expert Gary Neville criticized the team’s performance, but also the “moaning” body language of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes in particular.
But the German boss brushed off this criticism, calling it a “side effect” of other problems.
“I don’t think it was a body language issue today,” Rangnick said at the post-match press conference. “It was a question of physicality, meeting the demands of speed, tempo and physicality.
“The side effect is body language afterwards. I don’t think that’s the major issue for us today.
“The big problem was the way we played in these times when it came to physics.”
Neville was blunt in his criticism of the Portuguese pair in particular, insisting that more was needed from the senior and top players on the squad.
“Yeah, that pissed me off for about two months,” Neville said on Sky Sports. “Your best players on your team, it’s devastating when these players give that look and that body language to others. They have to help them and be the father and grandparent of the team.
“I made huge mistakes as a young player at Manchester United, but I had some good senior players who would have attacked me, but they would also have taken my arm and helped me and I didn’t do not have the feeling that this is happening.
“I think there is something wrong with that. Bruno complains all the time. You have to be there when your teammates need you in the toughest times.”
Rangnick has also refused to use United’s recent COVID-19 outbreak as an excuse, which has seen two games postponed and the team have not played since the 1-0 victory over Norwich City on December 11.
“It’s also a question of pace, but we don’t have to look for excuses – we have to improve and become more physical and more precise when we are 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, energy and what kind of energy do we play with the ball and against the ball. .
“In three days we have the next home game against Burnley and then another four days later when we face 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 do it sustainably on the pitch in these two home games if we are to score points.”