Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has admitted he has been forced to 'compromise' his tactics due to Cristiano Ronaldo's lack of pressing, but also conceded that he 'should have done better' in the role.
Rangnick arrived at Old Trafford in November with a reputation as a master of the 'gegenpressing' approach popularised by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. However, things have not gone to plan, with the German unable to impress his style of play on a seriously underperforming United squad.
Rangnick will step into a two-year consultancy role from 2022/23, with Erik ten Hag replacing him in the dugout and set to oversee a squad overhaul.
Speaking ahead of facing Palace on the final day, interim manager Rangnick was asked why he had struggled to implement his pressing style - and name-checked Ronaldo unprompted. Ironically, the Portuguese superstar will miss the game due to a hip injury.
“I am the one who is most disappointed about that and frustrated about that [the lack of pressing]," he said.
"At one stage we just had to find compromises - attacking a little bit deeper, how can we make sure that we get our offensive players into their positions?
“Cristiano scored a few goals but, again, Cristiano - and I’m not blaming him at all, he did great in those games - but he’s not a pressing monster. He’s not a player - even when he was a young player - he was not a young player who was crying, shouting 'hurray, the other team has got the ball, where can we win balls?'"
“And the same with quite a few other players so we had to make some compromises at one stage, maybe we made a few too many - that’s also possible - but, as I said, we never found the right balance between what do we need with the ball and without the ball.”
Asked if he felt let down by individuals in his failure to instil his pressing philosophy, Rangnick said: “I agree we never came near to that aggressive, pro-active football.
Listen now to 90min's Manchester United podcast, The Promised Land, with Scott Saunders &Rob Blanchette. On this week's show they discuss the latest news surrounding the club including a discussion regarding Ten Hag's arrival and his Ronaldo hint.
“That has to do with physicality if we want to play like that. If you think of Jurgen Klopp’s first season at Liverpool they did not play that kind of football, it took them one and a half seasons. In the end they finished eighth.
“I’m more than self-critical. I should have done better. I expected that me and my coaching staff could have developed this team in a more sustainable kind of way. We couldn’t and it’s not only the players who should be blamed, it should be ourselves.”