Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick praised his side's marked second-half improvement during the win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Without a win in three matches across all competitions, the Red Devils were booed off by the Old Trafford faithful following a goalless first half.

The hosts registered just three shots on goal to their opponents’ eight during the opening 45 minutes, while enjoying only 41 per cent of possession.

However, the pendulum swung in their favour early in the second half, Cristiano Ronaldo breaking the deadlock with his first goal of 2022 before Lewis Dunk was dismissed for bringing down Anthony Elanga.

Bruno Fernandes sealed the points deep into stoppage time with his fourth goal in as many Premier League appearances against Brighton.

"First half was Mr Hyde; second half Dr Jekyll – and for a change, [the result] was different," Rangnick said.

"In the end, it was important to get the three points against an in-form team. Brighton are very possession-based, full of confidence, and we had to take more risks in the second half; it paid off. 

"In the first 10 minutes of the second half, we had more success moments, and it raised the crowd; they were not moaning and were getting behind the team

"We scored the goal and got the red card. It should have been 3-0, 4-0 after 75 minutes, but there is a bit of lack of assuredness in front of goal."

United also registered their second clean sheet in three home Premier League games – as many as they managed in the previous 18 – but did so without Raphael Varane, who pulled out of the starting line-up due to illness.

Addressing the defender's situation, Rangnick revealed: "On the way from the hotel after dinner and team meeting, he had stomach problems. 

"We were hoping to get rid of it with medication, but he did not feel well and that is why we played with Victor Lindelof instead."

Victory lifted United above West Ham and back into the top four of the Premier League table.

David de Gea, who made several smart saves to keep Brighton at bay, revealed his team-mates' delight at getting back to winning ways, but feels they should be in a stronger position than they are.

"It is great always when you have the three points, especially after we drew the last few games," the goalkeeper said. "We are all very happy.

"We knew that Brighton is one of the teams that play very well with the ball, press very good and, for me, it is a very good team. 

"We pressed high in the second half. We controlled the game after the red card and there was a five-minute spell when they came back.

"We should be fighting for more things than the top four, but that is the reality. There are many teams fighting for the same position and with the quality we have, we should win a lot of points."

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick will not drop Harry Maguire nor strip him of the captaincy but insists he needs to get better.

Maguire has been culpable defensively in United's recent 1-1 draws with Burnley and Southampton.

Rangnick conceded the 28-year-old record signing needed to get better, revealing he is struggling to adjust to United's back four.

"I think after he came back after his injury he did extremely well, with a very good performance against West Ham," Rangnick told reporters ahead of United's Tuesday game with Brighton and Hove Albion.

"In the last two games he had some weaker moments, both against Southampton and when we conceded the goal against Burnley.

"He is our captain and I don't see any reason to change that, but he is a player who has to develop and get better, like all the other players.

"The way we play is new. In the English national team he is used to playing in a back three, here he's in a back four but not as proactive. It will take some time for him to get used to it."

Maguire, who joined United for £80 million in 2019, has made 19 starts in the league this season for the Red Devils who have kept five clean sheets from 24 games.

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick will not drop Harry Maguire not strip him of the captaincy but insists he needs to get better.

Maguire has been culpable defensively in United's recent 1-1 draws with Burnley and Southampton.

Rangnick conceded the 28-year-old record signing needed to get better, revealing he is struggling to adjust to United's back four.

"I think after he came back after his injury he did extremely well, with a very good performance against West Ham," Rangnick told reporters ahead of United's Tuesday game with Brighton and Hove Albion.

"In the last two games he had some weaker moments, both against Southampton and when we conceded the goal against Burnley.

"He is our captain and I don't see any reason to change that, but he is a player who has to develop and get better, like all the other players.

"The way we play is new. In the English national team he is used to playing in a back three, here he's in a back four but not as proactive. It will take some time for him to get used to it."

Maguire, who joined United for £80 million in 2019, has made 19 starts in the league this season for the Red Devils who have kept five clean sheets from 24 games.

A fourth-placed finish in the Premier League is the best Manchester United can hope for this season, so says Ralf Rangnick.

United have dropped to fifth following successive draws with Burnley and Southampton, which came off the back of an FA Cup exit at the hands of Middlesbrough.

The Red Devils can move above West Ham into the Champions League places, however, should they win their game in hand against Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

But United trail third-place Chelsea by seven points, while Liverpool and Manchester City are 14 and 23 points better off respectively.

Ahead of hosting Brighton at Old Trafford, Rangnick conceded that his side cannot currently consider challenging for anything other than securing the final Champions League place.

"Right now, this is exactly what Manchester United needs and wants: to finish fourth in the league," he said at Monday's pre-match news conference. 

"I think this is the highest possible achievement we can get domestically. In the league, it's number four, that's our ambition, what we have to achieve and what we're aiming at."

Rangnick was appointed as interim manager until the end of the season in November and is set to take on a consultancy role from the end of the season for two years.

"After being here for 10 or 11 weeks, I know what we need next season," Rangnick added. "But it's not the time now to discuss this with anyone.

"My full focus is on tomorrow, then Sunday, Wednesday and the next couple of weeks.

"My focus is on the current squad, getting the best out of this season and then, after that, it's time to speak about the next steps for next season and the next couple of years."

After failing to win after being ahead at the interval in four of their last six matches in all competitions, Rangnick knows his side are lacking in confidence.

"It's obvious if you are 1-0 up in 11 out of 13 games and win half, and in three consecutive games you concede an equaliser, then it affects the minds of the players," he said.

"They think they should be 2-0 up or 3-0 up and it's 1-1 – it affects the players. We have to be more effective to score the second and third goal and kill the game off. 

"But if it doesn't happen then we have to be disciplined. You can understand that it affects the confidence of the players. 

"The only thing we can do is speak to the players one by one and explain to them why."

United's issues have been laid bare by their profligacy in front of goal since Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Since his first game in charge on December 5, they have scored 17 goals in all competitions, but their expected goals (xG) figure is 23.3.

That differential of -6.3 is the third-largest among all teams in Europe's top-five leagues in that time, behind only Lyon (-8) and Rayo Vallecano (-7.4).

Rather than focus on his misfiring attackers, though, Rangnick believes United need to tighten up at the other end.

"It's clear the players are getting it. It started with [the FA Cup win over] Aston Villa and since then the players feel and understand the job," he said. 

"They now need to do it sustainably. The first half over the last couple of weeks has been very good. We didn't concede a single goal. 

"The next step is to raise our level physically, tactically, mentally. It's been too easy for other teams [to score] and also our own mistakes that we made let the other teams score."

Asked if his players are to blame for the ongoing three-match winless run, Rangnick said: "I don't know. 

"It is something to discuss at the end of the season. The players are ambitious and want to get better. They want to win. My job is to help them and show them a pathway."

United have won their last five Premier League games against Brighton, this following a run of three games without a victory in the fixture.

Gary Neville has described Manchester United as being "like a broth of 100 ingredients" and insisted Ralf Rangnick is not solely to blame for his former club's issues.

United have squandered half-time leads to draw 1-1 with Burnley and Southampton in their past two top-flight matches, seeing them drop to fifth.

It marks only the second time in their Premier League history that United have failed to win back-to-back games in which they have led at the midway point.

United are winless in three in all competitions, meanwhile, having also been pegged back at 1-1 by Middlesbrough before losing on penalties in the FA Cup fourth-round tie.

The Red Devils strengthened ahead of this campaign by bringing in Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Neville does not believe there is any real plan at Old Trafford.

"You put that many ingredients into a soup, you don't know which one in the end is making it taste bad," he told Sky Sports. "You lose your sanity over what's good and what's bad.

"I felt they were near last season [when they finished second] but now I feel they are as far away as they've ever been from winning the league.

"Maybe the right appointment in the summer and a little bit of a shuffle with someone who is calculated, ruthless and knows where the problem lies could change things again.

"Right now, I'm looking at a broth of 100 ingredients and don't know which of them I want to get rid of to make it taste better. It's a mess and United fans must take their medicine."

Rangnick, appointed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's successor on an interim basis until the end of the campaign in November, has naturally shouldered much of the blame of late.

United have averaged fewer goals per game under the German than they have under any other manager in Premier League history (1.4 – 14 goals in 10 games).

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes claimed on the back of Saturday's draw with Southampton that Rangnick is nothing more than a sporting director.

But amid rumours that United's players are pushing the club to appoint Mauricio Pochettino, Neville is not sure if a new man in the dugout will have the desired effect.

"It now gets to a point where you don't feel it's down to the manager anymore," said Neville, who won 17 major honours across his near two decades in United's first team.

"Ole was getting a lot of criticism at the start of the season and loses his job and it's now being suggested that Rangnick isn't good enough because he's a sporting director and he's not a coach.

"There's a confidence issue but there's also an issue of excuse mentality and of looking after themselves and not looking at the bigger picture, which is creating a brilliant team and trying to get back up that league."

Rangnick was forced to defend himself after the draw with Southampton, pointing out that United are not getting the results that their performances deserve.

United had 12 shots against Southampton to go with 22 attempts at Burnley and 30 over 120 minutes of the FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough, yet they failed to win each.

Since Rangnick's first game in charge on December 5, United have scored 17 goals in all competitions, but their expected goals (xG) figure is 23.3.

That differential of -6.3 is the third-biggest among all teams in Europe's top-five leagues in that time, behind only Lyon (-8) and Rayo Vallecano (-7.4).

By contrast, Premier League leaders Manchester City have scored 38 goals in the same timeframe from an xG of 29.9 – a positive differential of 8.11.

While an inability to put chances away is proving an issue, Neville believes United's issues run much deeper.

"You can't put your finger on one thing when you watch United nowadays," he said. "Every day feels like a soap opera. You hear the players want Pochettino, then Ronaldo's going to leave.

"The last few weeks have been terrible in terms of off-the-pitch incidents. On the pitch, I saw [Southampton manager] Ralph Hasenhuttl's quote after the game, which I think is the biggest criticism you can have levelled at you as a sportsperson or an athlete – that you don't work hard enough.

"I look at them on the pitch and there's definitely a number of them who are lacking in confidence. There's also a few of them who are not putting a shift in. The hard yards.

"That I can't forgive because as a United fan all that you can ask is that they give their all on the pitch. It looks lethargic and they don't look like they have the quality to chase games. Something has got to change there very quickly."

Ralf Rangnick does not believe his brand of football is beyond Manchester United's physical capacity despite concerns over their inability to perform to a certain standard over an entire game.

United were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Southampton on Saturday, making it three successive matches with that scoreline – the first of which was in the FA Cup against Championship side Middlesbrough, who won on penalties.

A recurring theme in those games, and several others during Rangnick's reign, is that United have looked impressive in spells but appeared incapable of maintaining their level throughout.

As a result, some have suggested United simply are not fit enough yet to carry out Rangnick's pressing-based style of play effectively – even Southampton coach Ralph Hasenhuttl alluded to this belief after Saturday's game, saying: "It's not a big secret that when they lose the ball the reverse gears are not the best from everyone."

There is also little evidence that United have made any improvement in terms of their pressing under Rangnick – since his first game, they average 6.9 high turnovers per game, down slightly from 7.1 with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season.

Similarly, the rate at which they turn such situations into shots remains practically identical at 14.5 per cent (up from 14.1 per cent), but Rangnick is not convinced fitness is the problem.

He told reporters: "To be honest, I don't know if we are not fit enough in order to play that way because, as you said, I came in the middle of the season, we had no pre-season [focusing on that system], and, in essence, only maybe two weeks in total in between where we could train in a normal way.

"If I watched the team in training, the way that it's being prepared for games, I wouldn't allow myself to say we are not fit enough to play like that.

"I don't think that this is the case, because then we would also struggle in the last 20 minutes of a game, and both against Burnley and [Southampton] I think we showed that we were physically able to again play forward.

"We didn't always take the right decisions. We were not as composed and not structured enough. In the way that we played in the first half compared to the last half hour, we were a bit erratic in those moments.

"I would have wished us to stay a little bit calmer and cooler, but we had the chances though. I don't think that it is a question of physicality with regard to fitness.

"But yes, it might well be as I said. The players that we have are technical players, they like to play technical football, but in the Premier League, no matter against which team – even more so against teams like Southampton – you cannot win games only in a technical way. You also have to show some physicality."

United have the opportunity to make amends on Tuesday when they face Brighton and Hove Albion, but Rangnick is acutely aware of the tricky situation they find themselves in.

All three of the teams directly below United in the Premier League have at least a game in hand on them, and Rangnick has warned his team they need to start holding on to leads if they want to finish in the top four.

Asked if he is concerned about missing out on the top four, Rangnick said: "I mean, it has always been a concern since Ole left the club, that was one of the reasons probably why he had to leave the club.

"And, of course, results like [Southampton] doesn't make things any easier. As I said in the games against Aston Villa and Burnley, and [on Saturday] in all those games we were 1-0 or 2-0 up and gave away two points.

"This can happen once but it shouldn't happen three times, and with four more points now the situation would be different.

"But it's not. This is what we have to face and realise the truth, and obviously with results like [Southampton] it doesn't make it any easier to finish fourth at the end."

Manchester United's inability to take their chances came back to bite them once more as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton on Saturday.

Che Adams struck early in the second half to cancel out Jadon Sancho's opener at Old Trafford.

In the 3pm GMT kick-offs, Everton ended a six-match winless streak in the Premier League as Frank Lampard oversaw a vital 3-0 win over Leeds United at Goodison Park, while Watford were beaten by Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace.

Later, league leaders Manchester City moved 12 points clear at the top with a 4-0 thrashing of strugglers Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Manchester United 1-1 Southampton: Rangnick's right, but that won't get the Red Devils points

Ralf Rangnick may have risked the wrath of some pundits after bringing up expected goals in his post-match comments, but the interim manager is correct – his side are creating plenty of chances without putting them away.

United finished the game with 12 shots to Southampton's 13, but an xG of 2.6 to the visitors' 0.9.


Nevertheless, for only the second time in their Premier League history, United have failed to win back-to-back matches despite being ahead at half-time in both, having last done so in December 1998.

Across their 10 top-flight games under Rangnick, meanwhile, they have averaged fewer goals per game than they have under any other manager in Premier League history (1.4).

United are at least unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League games against Southampton (W5 D7) since a 1-0 home loss in January 2016, while having only scored two goals in his first 23 appearances for the club in all competitions, Sancho has since netted two in his last three.

Brentford 0-0 Crystal Palace: Bees stop the rot

Brentford ended a run of five straight Premier League defeats and registered a clean sheet for the first time in 12 top-flight games (since a 1-0 win over Everton on November 28), as they drew with Palace.

It was a match of few clear chances (there were only 15 shots in total), though Wilfried Zaha was convinced he should have been awarded a late penalty.

Zaha was making his 250th Premier League appearance for Crystal Palace, just the third African player to hit that milestone for a single club in the competition, after Shola Ameobi (294 for Newcastle) and Didier Drogba (254 for Chelsea).

Everton 3-0 Leeds United: Lampard up and running

Lampard claimed his first league win as Everton manager in style, as the Toffees snapped a four-match losing streak in the competition with an emphatic 3-0 win over Leeds.

Everton went 2-0 up before half-time through Seamus Coleman's first league goal in 69 games, since May 2019, and Michael Keane's 10th goal in the top flight for the club.


Both of those were headers and no team have now scored more headed Premier League goals than Everton, who are level with United on 336.

It was the first time Everton scored twice before half-time in 40 Premier League games, last doing so one year and nine days earlier against, coincidentally, Leeds at Elland Road.

Anthony Gordon diverted in Richarlison's shot to seal Everton's biggest Premier League win since a 5-2 victory over West Brom in September 2020.

Watford 0-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: No home comforts for the Hornets

Watford have now lost six consecutive home league games for the first time since August to October 1990, a run which also included a defeat to Brighton.

Neal Maupay and Adam Webster got the goals for Brighton, who have lost just one of their past 12 away games in the Premier League, all coming in 2021-22 (W4 D7) – no side has lost fewer away games in the top flight this term than the Seagulls.

Watford have not kept a clean sheet in any of their past 17 home Premier League matches, equalling the competition's record run without a home shut-out.

Roy Hodgson has taken on a big job, and Watford will want a favour from Aston Villa against Newcastle United on Sunday to remain within three points of safety.

Norwich City 0-4 Manchester City: Perfect Sterling hat-trick sees leaders storm on

City lost on their previous league trip to Carrow Road, but there appeared little danger of a shock this time around as Raheem Sterling's perfect hat-trick helped them to a 4-0 win.

Sterling became the third City player to score a perfect hat-trick in the Premier League, after Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero (twice). Meanwhile, no player has scored more away hat-tricks for the club in the competition than Sterling, with each of his last three coming on the road.


The ex-Liverpool attacker became the sixth City player to score as many as 10 headed goals in the Premier League, with only Aguero (19) and Niall Quinn (13) netting more.

City scored at least four goals in a Premier League away game for the 21st time under Pep Guardiola, at least eight more than any other side since the Catalan coach joined the club.

Norwich, meanwhile, have conceded 50 goals in their 24 Premier League games this season – only in 1938-39 (21) and 1946-47 (19) have they shipped 50 in fewer games in a single league campaign.

Paul Scholes believes Ralf Rangnick is not the right manager for Manchester United, whose poor form continued against Southampton on Saturday.

United drew a second successive Premier League game after Che Adams cancelled out Jadon Sancho's opener at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were held by Burnley in midweek, which came on the back of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on February 4.

United have led at half-time in all three matches, with the two Premier League draws marking only the second time in the competition's history they have failed to win consecutive matches after being in front at the break in both.

United sit fifth and have given their rivals the chance to nose ahead in the race for Champions League qualification.

Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November on an interim basis until the end of the season, with the former RB Leipzig coach and director also set to take on a consultancy role until 2024.

However, United have averaged fewer goals per game under Rangnick than they have under any other manager in Premier League history (1.4 – 14 goals in 10 games), and their recent run has led to speculation the squad are not buying into the German's ideas.

Rangnick refuted these claims in his pre-match news conference, yet United great Scholes has not been impressed by what he has seen so far.

"That's the feeling around the place [quiet inside Old Trafford] there's a lack of interest now with how the season's been," Scholes said in his role as a pundit on BT Sport.

"It's been a bad seven days, it's really been a bad six or seven months.

"The sacking of Ole was coming, we all knew that, but where was the plan? There has to be a plan, there has to be an elite, top coach into the football club to revive the football club.

"It's Manchester United, they should have the best of everything, and to not have a plan and bring what is a sporting director... he's coached a team two years out of the last 10.

"Don't get me wrong, I like the man, he comes across well, but he's looked like he's lacked coaching in the last five or six years. They're a team of individuals, you look at the difference today in United to Southampton.

"Southampton were brilliant, the coaching, methods, passages of play, it was fantastic.

"One team have got a proper coach, the other team has a sporting director, which isn't right for Manchester United."

Ralf Rangnick bemoaned Manchester United's composure after they again slipped up when leading to draw 1-1 with Southampton on Saturday.

Jadon Sancho struck first after 21 minutes at Old Trafford with his second goal in three games, as many as he scored in his first 23 outings across all competitions for United.

However, just as they did at Burnley on Tuesday, Rangnick's side squandered their lead and were held after Che Adams' second-half equaliser.

It is only the second time in Premier League history that United have failed to win back-to-back matches despite being ahead at half-time in both, having last done so in December 1998.

Just four top-flight teams have dropped more points than United (13) from a winning position this season, and Rangnick expressed his concern after yet another failure to hold onto a lead.

"It was very similar to previous games, unfortunately," Rangnick told BBC Sport. "It is the fourth game where we were ahead but took one point instead of three. It is difficult to take but we have to accept it.

"It was a very good first half hour. I was pleased with our performance. We didn't allow them too many chances, but they had transitional moments in the first half and then scored an early goal in the second half.

"Then it was an open game, each team had chances. We had the clearer chances to win, but right now we are struggling to keep our composure and the structure for more than the first half.

"We have to understand where we are. [Southampton] won 3-2 at Tottenham. We got a point today, we expected three and needed three, but that is the situation.

"That is why there was a change of manager and why we are here."

Luke Shaw echoed his manager's frustrations as he stressed the importance of converting their good starts into wins.

"History is repeating itself again," Shaw added. "We started really well the first 20 minutes, got the goal and it just happened again. We know it's not good enough and it needs to change quickly.

"If we take our chances early in the game, it's a different story. We know we need to get better. We can't over-think it. We want to get in the Champions League and it's not good enough and there's no way we will get in Champions League if we keep dropping points.

"The most important thing at the moment is results. It's about picking up the points and we need to be climbing the table.

Rangnick, however, reserved special praise for Sancho, whom he believes is rediscovering the form that led United to spend £73million on the former Borussia Dortmund winger last July.

"This is the Jadon Sancho I know from the Bundesliga and the way he is playing at the moment is the best Jadon Sancho we have seen for Manchester United," Rangnick added.

United will look to make amends on Tuesday when they host Brighton and Hove Albion.

Ralf Rangnick believes it is "obvious" Manchester United need to buy a striker in the next transfer window.

United's interim manager has overseen a mixed period of results in recent weeks, with the Red Devils knocked out of the FA Cup by Middlesbrough in the fourth round and sitting sixth in the Premier League after a 1-1 draw at lowly Burnley.

Former RB Leipzig head coach Rangnick currently has Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford to call upon as striker options, with Mason Greenwood currently unavailable and Anthony Martial on loan to Sevilla.

However, Ronaldo has not scored in his last five appearances across 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 – and Cavani's contract is set to expire at the end of the season.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's home league match with Southampton, Rangnick acknowledged it is an area that United need to address ahead of the next season.

"This is obvious," Rangnick told a news conference when asked specifically if United needed a "younger" striker adding to the squad.

"Edinson's contract is running out in the summer, and the club needs the best possible centre-forward. This is an obvious one. I think everyone is aware of that."

The issues in front of goal were apparent in Tuesday's draw at Burnley – United had 64 per cent possession and 22 attempts on goal but could not battle past Sean Dyche's side.

In fact, Rashford – who has netted four times from an expected goals (xG) value of 2.63 – is the only active United forward to significantly outperform his xG in the Premier League this season.

Ronaldo has found the net eight times from an xG of 10.36, while Cavani has scored just twice in the league, well below his xG total of 3.53.

Rangnick has already questioned United's finishing, stating that his side are not managing enough goals from the quality of chances they are creating as he demanded his players start reaping the rewards of the situations they create.

If United are to be in the market for a new striker in the close season, the Red Devils are known to be long-term admirers of the much coveted Erling Haaland, while a new permanent managerial option could open the door for a variety of centre-forwards. 


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."

Ralf Rangnick criticised his Manchester United stars for playing "tiki-taka" football and lacking urgency at crucial times in the draw at Burnley.

The 1-1 outcome at Turf Moor allowed West Ham to jump above United into fourth place in the Premier League, with Arsenal and Tottenham in pursuit of both.

Burnley sit bottom of the league and rode their luck as United had two first-half goals disallowed, leading only by a Paul Pogba strike as the interval arrived.

But the Clarets started the first half positively and were level inside two minutes as Jay Rodriguez fired past David de Gea.

Interim manager Rangnick said he warned his players to be on guard for a fired-up Burnley at the start of the second half; therefore, to concede so early was an annoyance to the German boss.

He told BBC Sport: "We knew they would come out of the locker room in a more aggressive way. This is the only thing I can blame the team for; in the first 20 minutes of the second half we were not as aggressive as in the first half.

"The way that we conceded the goal was completely unnecessary. We had our own counter-attack 30 seconds before and in that moment we were two or three players more in our own half, took wrong decisions in the defensive behaviour and in a way gave the goal away to them.

"If you look into the whole game we dominated most of the game, 70 minutes, and winning only one point is just not enough: a very frustrating night again."

Rangnick added: "In the first two minutes [of the second half] we won the ball three times and gave it away too easily because we were playing tiki-taka football in our own half, and we were not direct enough and stringent enough in the way we try to play forward.

"Then we had the counter-attack with Jadon [Sancho] and with Marcus [Rashford] and again gave the ball away too easily in their box. The first 20 minutes of the second half we were not as aggressive and not as controlled as we were in the first half, and that's why we gave them the chance to score."

United have home games coming up against Southampton and Brighton, on Saturday and Tuesday.

Rangnick told MUTV the Burnley result made it "even more important to get six points out of those two games".

Ralf Rangnick was frustrated by a "very, very soft" decision leading to Manchester United having a goal ruled out in their 1-1 draw against Burnley on Tuesday. 

United appeared to have gone 2-0 up when Josh Brownhill turned Marcus Rashford's cross into his own net, but a foul was belatedly given for Paul Pogba's challenge on Erik Pieters in the build-up. 

Pogba had given the Red Devils the lead in the 18th minute with his first Premier League goal in 384 days after Raphael Varane had one disallowed for an offside against Harry Maguire. 

Nick Pope kept Burnley in it for the rest of the first half and following Jay Rodriguez's equaliser two minutes after the restart, United were unable to test the hosts' keeper again. 

Rangnick felt the game ought to have been over by half-time and that his team were hindered significantly by the own goal being chalked off. 

"I think we played a fantastic first half, couldn't have played any better. We scored three goals, the second that was disallowed I cannot understand," Rangnick told the BBC. 

"It was a very, very soft decision by the linesman. He flagged the foul five or six seconds after it took place. 

"It really surprised me he flagged when the ball was in the net. Had he really seen the foul? The first I can understand why it was disallowed, it was a hard one, but the second I cannot understand. 

"If you look into the whole game, we dominated for most of it. Winning one point is not enough and another frustrating game." 

Only Premier League leaders Manchester City (11) are on a longer unbeaten away run in the top flight than United, who have avoided defeat in each of their past six outings. However, Rangnick's side have won just two of those matches. 

Rodriguez's goal came with Burnley's first shot on target of the game and that frustrated United captain Harry Maguire, who allowed Wout Weghorst to turn and slide his strike partner in with an excellent assist. 

 "I think you saw the first half. We had control. We have got to win the game with the amount of chances we created. We had to get that second goal. It's two points dropped," Maguire told BT Sport. 

"We wanted to dominate the game but when you come to Burnley away you are not going to dominate for 90 minutes. We had to see it out better. We conceded like against Middlesbrough [in the FA Cup on Friday] when they had that spell of pressure. We have got to be that bit more clinical. 

"It was a disappointing goal on our behalf to concede. We came out in the second half a bit sloppy. We had long enough in the game to come back from that and try and find the winner. 

"We demand of ourselves to win the football match, so it is disappointing."  

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has urged players to communicate with him and the club in person rather than unloading on social media.

Rangnick made his plea to United players after two similar occurrences in a matter of weeks, with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard contradicting the German with social media posts.

Martial was the first to break ranks last month, writing on his personal Instagram account that he "will never refuse to play a match for Man Utd" after Rangnick claimed the Frenchman was not involved against Aston Villa because "he didn't want to be in the squad".

Then, last week, Rangnick revealed Lingard was not going to be in the squad to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup because the midfielder asked for "a couple of days off just to clear his mind".

Many assumed that was in relation to Lingard failing to secure a move away from Old Trafford in January, and Rangnick's words resulted in criticism for the 29-year-old.

But he later wrote on his official Twitter account that "the club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons".

Rangnick has attempted to draw a line in the sand, though he wants players to be direct with him rather than going public.

"It's always better [to communicate in person]," Rangnick told reporters. "I never, ever read or communicate by social media accounts, I don't even exist there, to be honest, I wouldn't have time to do that.

"Therefore it's always better [to communicate in face-to-face]. I always communicate with the players directly, like I did with Anthony Martial and with Jesse. But maybe I am a different generation, my generation never grew up with these kinds of things [social media].

"For me, it's always better to communicate directly, but again it's time to look ahead. I know in both cases what I said to the players, and what happened, so for me, there is no reason to discuss this anymore."

Lingard is one of four members of United's first-team squad whose contract expires in June, with Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Juan Mata all seemingly set to leave.

While there has been no official communication from any of them, Rangnick seemed disinterested in the situation, adamant their focus should be on playing well anyway.

Asked if he thinks any of them will leave, Rangnick said: "I don't know. It's far too early to speak about that, and in the end, it's also a question of what the players want and how the club see it.

"But these are not interesting topics for us right now, right now it is to get the best out of the season and these players.

"Even if they want to leave at the end of the season, the chance to get an offer from any club, including Manchester United, is to play well."

Ralf Rangnick denied having any problems with Jesse Lingard as he confirmed the England international and Edinson Cavani were available again for Manchester United.

Both players missed the FA Cup fourth-round clash with Middlesbrough, which United lost on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Friday.

Cavani was granted extra time off after international duty with Uruguay, while Rangnick said Lingard had been allowed to "clear his head" after he was not allowed to leave the club during the January transfer window.

Lingard disputed the suggestion he had requested to skip the Middlesbrough game, insisting the club had instructed him to take a longer break. Rangnick said after the match that he had wanted Lingard in the squad.

Rangnick has insisted there is no animosity between himself and Lingard and that he would have sanctioned his exit on deadline day were it not for the absence of Mason Greenwood. The 20-year-old is not currently being considered for selection by United following his arrest for alleged rape, assault, sexual assault and threats to kill.

The United interim manager said both the 29-year-old Lingard and Cavani would be back for Tuesday's Premier League match against Burnley.

"With regards to Jesse, I have a very good relationship with him," Rangnick said on Monday. "He knows I would have been willing to let him go at least until the issue with Mason came up. He mentioned some personal issues.

"We have to look forward now, there are no problems whatsoever between myself and Jesse and vice versa. I'm very happy to have him in the squad and he'll be in the squad for tomorrow night's game.

"They're both available and will both be part of the squad for tomorrow's game at Burnley. Both are top professionals, both have been training well."

United will be without Fred and Alex Telles for the game at Turf Moor after the Brazilian pair tested positive for coronavirus.

The match is the Red Devils' first since their shock cup exit to Middlesbrough, in which they were punished for missing a hatful of chances, ending the contest with 30 shots and 4.32 expected goals to their opponents' 1.43.

Rangnick felt the performance was positive but that United paid the price for their profligacy in front of goal and for failing to stop a simple Boro counter-attack before Matt Crooks' equaliser, which was allowed to stand despite the ball striking Duncan Watmore's hand.

Asked if United needed an overhaul, he said: "I don't know. I don't think so. Overall, the development of the team and performances over the last couple of weeks have improved.

"There are two points of criticism that we all have to face. One: we wasted too many clear-cut chances, 22 shots inside the box, 10 were massive opportunities and we should easily have been 3-0 up at half-time. It should have been 6-1 or 6-2.

"And the other one was, 10 seconds before we conceded the goal, it was a perfect counter-pressing situation inside their half, we took away time but not the ball away from them and eight seconds later we were outnumbered in our box, it was a handball goal and I'm still convinced this goal should have been disallowed, but we shouldn't have allowed this situation.

"Those are the two things I fault with the team. We invested a week into the game plan and many of those things have been confirmed by the team and were shown on the pitch against Middlesbrough."

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