Rangnick urges Ronaldo and United stars to be clinical
Ralf Rangnick has challenged Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United to find their scoring form after blaming poor finishing for a dip in results.
United were unable to satisfactorily bounce back from the shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Middlesbrough as they drew 1-1 with the Premier League's bottom club Burnley on Tuesday.
Rangnick's side had 64.1 per cent of the possession at Turf Moor and 22 goal attempts. Five of those were on target, but Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope was in excellent form, while United also had two goals disallowed.
Ronaldo started on the bench, but came on to make his 100th career appearance as a substitute.
He did not have the desired impact, however, having just nine touches, getting none of his three attempts on target.
Ronaldo has failed to score in any of his last five appearances in all competitions – the last time he had a longer run without a goal at club level was a run of seven games in December 2008 and January 2009.
Rangnick, though, insists United's players must all take the onus to improve and capitalise on the chances they are creating.
Ahead of Saturday's meeting with Southampton, interim manager Rangnick told a news conference: "It's not only about Cristiano. He should score more goals, it's obvious.
"We have created a lot of chances, but we didn't score enough goals based on how many chances we created. I think 70 minutes [against Burnley] was very close to the game plan, but now it's about rewarding ourselves and getting the results we should have deserved."
On Friday, reports surfaced suggesting United's players had been unimpressed with Rangnick's training sessions.
However, the former RB Leipzig boss shrugged off such talk.
"I don't know about those articles," he said. "The way the team has developed is obvious and that is due to the training, including all the analysis and the important training games, a lot of little games to increase fluidity and get better in possession of the ball.
"It's important that the players realise that there has been a good development in the last couple of weeks, that we controlled the games. But if we concede a goal, we should stick to the game plan and not all of a sudden lose shape and composure.
"This is the most harmful part, that we didn't stick to the game plan, we didn't have the same positioning on the pitch. When we analyse the games, this is what we have to do better. Not lose composure, shape. In those 15 minutes against Burnley we lost that shape."
United face a Southampton team who beat Tottenham 3-2 in their last outing, though the Red Devils are unbeaten in their last 11 Premier League games against Saints, winning five of those fixtures.
Indeed, Southampton have won just two of their 22 Premier League away games against United (D4 L16), losing the corresponding fixture 9-0 last season, and Rangnick has only overseen one top-flight defeat since replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Ronaldo scored on his last Premier League appearance against Southampton, in a 3-0 win in December 2004. If he scores this weekend, it will be the third-longest gap for a player between goals against a specific opponent in the competition (17 years and 70 days), after Ryan Giggs against Norwich City (18y 84d) and Paul Scholes against QPR (17y 120d).
"We are fully aware that this will be difficult," Rangnick said of the game.
"I watched the game at Spurs during the week, they really deserved to win, tactically played a very high level. It will be a challenge, but I’m sure we will be up for the challenge. We need top performances for the whole game."
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