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Man United way short of Ralf Rangnick demands after manager’s ‘aggressive’ comment

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At first glance it seems as though Manchester United have made a promising start to the Ralf Rangnick era.

But Rangnick was hired because he is a perfectionist, and when you look a little closer it is easy to see why he remains far from content with the performance of his side – even if it is just two weeks into his stint in charge.

United have won two and drawn one of Rangnick’s three games so far. They have conceded just one goal – and that was a stunning long-range strike which came against Young Boys when he had made 11 changes.

When compared to the final weeks of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign, which included a 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City and the 4-1 loss against Watford, there are signs of green shoots.

But, as Rangnick himself has conceded, the bar for defensive improvements was set extremely low by his predecessor.

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“Now we have two clean sheets, which is good,” he explained after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Norwich.

“But we still need to improve on that away, especially against physical teams or teams that attack high like Norwich did.”

And that, in a nutshell, is what Rangnick is demanding from his side. When he arrived he knew he didn’t have much time, with a six-month interim manager’s contract not providing much job security.

Yet the reason football director John Murtough was so attracted to the 63-year-old was his clear philosophy and the methods he uses to implement it.

There is often talk of “non-negotiables” in elite sport, with leaders setting out ground rules which everyone must abide by.

While that most commonly means good time-keeping, organisation and exemplary behaviour, for Rangnick it means hard work. He is all about a high-intensity pressing game, so you better get on board.

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And that is the area where United are still lacking. United did beat Norwich, but it required a 75th-minute penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo and three outstanding saves from David de Gea.

Considering Norwich are bottom, with the worst attack and defence in the league, that is not a particularly impressive day’s work.

“It was hard work and, in some parts of the game, we were doing well,” Rangnick said post-match.

“In other parts, we lacked a little bit of intensity, body language and we were not as aggressive as Norwich were, especially up front. We could have done with more intensity, with more physicality.”

Rangnick was full of praise for Dean Smith’s side, who went close through Teemu Pukki and Ozan Kabak, but he wanted more from the attacking quartet of Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes.

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And, crucially, he wants them to be more aggressive, to challenge fiercely for every ball and suffocate their opponents with their work out of possession.

I don’t think today it was a question of tactics or the distance to the team-mates,” Rangnick said.

“It was more one-on-one offensively and defensively, the second balls. It’s about who wins more second balls, who wins the one-on-one duels.”

That does not sound much, but it is the very essence of Rangnick’s style. While he doesn’t have much time, the German does have the benefit of a friendly run of fixtures.

United play Brentford on Tuesday before matches against Brighton, Newcastle and Burnley. If they are to reach Rangnick’s levels before the end of the season then they must top those sides in terms of aggression.

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Barcelona youngster in line to bench Jordi Alba for Real Sociedad clash – report

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As Barcelona drew 0-0 against Rayo Vallecano for the season opener, Jordi Alba was among the five to be substituted off to make way for offensive depth. The Spaniard is usually among the brightest offensive outlets in the team, but failed to make an impact last week.

Alba also looked out of his depth during pre-season, and it was reported that people within Barcelona were surprised that he started over Alejandro Balde.

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The 18-year-old was impressive during the run-up to the league opener, and was expected to take Alba’s place in the lineup.

While that did not happen vs Rayo, Javi Miguel reports that he is in line to start against Real Sociedad as the left-back. Xavi has informed Balde about his decision, and has told him to train with high intensity leading up to the game.

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Balde has been linked with an exit from Barcelona, especially given Marcos Alonso’s imminent arrival. However, an impressive performance at Anoeta could open the doors for his continuity.

The Chelsea defender has reportedly completed his move to Barcelona, subject to registrations and signatures. The club plan to announce it in the coming days if they are able to register Jules Kounde in time for the game.

Balde played in every single one of Barça’s pre-season fixtures, even registering an assist — to Raphinha —, against Inter Miami.

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Barcelona fans will hope the gamble pays dues, especially because it will likely not go down well with Alba, who is one of the team captains

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Barcelona yet to receive any offers for exit-bound right back, price tag sits at €20m

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Barcelona are said to be pushing Sergino Dest towards an exit, but a recent report from journalist Adria Albets has confirmed that the player does not have any offer at the moment.

Regardless of what has been said in the past, neither have Manchester United tabled any formal offer for the right-back, nor have they made contacts with the 21-year-old’s representative.

For the moment, Barcelona are clear pretty clear about offloading Dest but in order to fulfil the operation, they are demanding in excess of €20 million.

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For that particular reason, his agents are finding it hard to find a suitor as no club is willing to match the valuation for a player who is already fallen down the pecking order.

Xavi has so far preferred to use make-shift centre-back, Ronald Araujo, as a full-back. And while the Uruguayan has done well at times, it’s pretty clear that the team is looking to bring in a full-time right-back this summer.

For that, several players such as Hector Bellerin, Juan Foyth, Diogo Dalot, Thomas Meunier and Jeremie Frimpong have been considered, but there remain several complications in carrying out the operation

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To begin with, Villarreal’s valuation of €42 million for Juan Foyth is proving to be a hindrance.

Barcelona are finding themselves in this situation mostly because their attempt to sign a certain Cesar Azpilicueta failed.

Meanwhile, as far as Dest is concerned, he knows in order to get regular minutes, he needs to move away from Camp Nou, but Barcelona’s asking price of €20 million is putting a stop to his desire.

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Manchester United were thought to be weighing up a fresh move worth €20 million for the defender, but the Premier League side is yet to make any formal move. Hence, the Dutch-born American defender continues to train within the Barcelona ranks for the time being.

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Report: Chelsea prepared to listen to offers for their ‘huge talent’, will demand nearly £60m

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Report: Chelsea prepared to listen to offers for their ‘huge talent’, will demand nearly £60m

Chelsea would reportedly prefer to sell Christian Pulisic rather than loan him out this summer.

According to The Sun, Manchester United are interested in signing the 23-year-old Blues attacker on loan

is understood that Chelsea would rather offload the American on a permanent basis, though.

The report says they’ll listen to offers for Pulisic during the next couple of weeks, but want to recuperate the full £58million they paid for him a few years ago.

See also  Edwin van der Sar the key to making Manchester United great once again

With Chelsea demanding nearly £60million for the forward, will any club step forward with a bid?

Chelsea prefer to sell Pulisic

It makes little sense doing Man United a favour by sending them Pulisic on loan, so you can fully understand why a permanent transfer would make much more sense.

Described as a “huge talent” earlier this year by Gary Neville, Pulisic is a player that frustrates supporters at Stamford Bridge.

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The winger can produce moments of brilliance in the final third, but there’s no major consistency in his game.

He finished last season with eight goals and five assists in 38 matches across all competitions, which wasn’t a bad return considering he missed a couple of months with an ankle problem

However, the United States international can’t seem to become a real favourite under Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.

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His 2019/20 campaign is proof of what a talented player he can be.

The forward had 21 direct goal contributions in 34 Blues appearances, but it was a familiar case of injuries interrupting him whenever he builds up some momentum.

It would be quite a surprise if a clubs willing to fork out a near-£60million sum for him.

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