Rangnick took over from caretaker boss Michael Carrick in the wake of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking and is unbeaten in his first four games.
However, after starting out with a promising win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League, Rangnick has edged past bottom-of-the-table Norwich and then snatched a fortuitous draw against second-from-bottom Newcastle.
In a press conference where he picked apart issues ‘up front’ and with his ‘No 10s’ – the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes – Rangnick detailed exactly where he believes his side are going wrong.
‘Our problem was that we allowed too many transitional moments,’ he said. ‘This is not only a problem of the centre-backs, it’s a problem of the whole team. It starts up front, it can also be the role of the No 10s in that kind of formation.
Ralf Rangnick described Manchester United’s display at Newcastle as a ‘negative surprise’
United escaped with a 1-1 draw from St James’ Park against a team second-from-bottom
‘I don’t think it makes sense to speak about the individual performances of players. We need to get better as a team.’
The German’s plans have been disrupted by a Covid-19 outbreak at United which has led to the club’s Carrington training base being shut down and two fixtures being called off.
Asked ahead of Thursday’s game at home to Burnley if he was happy with his early progress at the club, Rangnick replied: ‘Of course not. Every ambitious coach – and there is no difference between other coaches and myself in that area – wants to take faster steps and larger steps forward.
‘But in order to do that you need to be able to train, and as you know we had to close Carrington for four days. We had eight or nine players in training directly after the Norwich game, and they only came back in bits and pieces.
He picked out issues with players ‘up front’ and in the ‘No 10’ position – like Marcus Rashford
The German’s plans have been disrupted by a Covid-19 outbreak at Manchester United
‘The last few days we were almost back to full strength with regard to the size of the squad, but we couldn’t do that much in training.
‘On the other hand, in those two or three training sessions the team looked good and therefore the Newcastle game was a bit of a negative surprise, the way that we played with regard to game speed, game tempo and physicality.’
Raphael Varane returned from injury at St James’ Park, but he and captain Harry Maguire were criticised for their performances in central defence as United got away with a 1-1 draw.
Rangnick added: ‘I don’t think Rapha has played for the last five or six weeks. He was injured from the Tottenham game. He made a mistake for the first goal we conceded, but apart from that he was okay.
Bruno Fernandes is another player occupying a role that Rangnick picked out as a problem
Harry Maguire (second from right) and Raphael Varane (right) were criticised for their displays
‘I wouldn’t say he was outstanding and the same with Harry, but I think they did okay.
Edinson Cavani also made his comeback from injury and came off the bench to score United’s equaliser.
‘Actually in the last two days I was also considering to play him from the start,’ revealed Rangnick. ‘I spoke to him and he didn’t feel comfortable to play from the beginning. He didn’t know how fit he really was, but after being 1-0 down at half-time it was clear to me that we had to take more risks. We needed to change something and that’s why we decided to bring on him and Jadon (Sancho) at half-time.’