Ralf Rangnick has told Manchester United they must improve their record in the transfer market if they are to close the gap on Manchester City.
United have spent more than £ 1billion since Sir Alex Ferguson retired nine years ago and, while they are still capable of matching City on the day, they are about to spend a ninth successive season marooned below the club Ferguson once branded the “noisy neighbors” .
Rangnick believes much of that is down to the lack of continuity and planning at Old Trafford, despite being able to rouse themselves to claim significant results in one-off games.
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United will be looking for a fourth successive victory at the Etihad this weekend and have beaten Pep Guardiola’s side six times since the Catalan arrived – a record matched only by Tottenham.
On Sunday it will be Rangnick’s turn to try and plot a course to victory in 90 minutes, but come the summer it will almost certainly be someone else who is handed the task of overhauling City across 38 games rather than two.
But why is this team good enough to take City on in individual games but not consistent enough to maintain it from August to May? “This would be a long answer and take too much of our time, “explains Rangnick, but the interim manager still found the time to outline the fundamental issue that has held United back in the nine years since Ferguson retired and, perhaps more importantly given his role will move to the back office this summer, how it can be changed.
The short answer is continuity, in the dugout and the transfer market. “Pep has been there for almost six years, he came in 2016, Jurgen [Klopp] in 2015 to Liverpool, it’s a question of continuity, consistency, knowing exactly how I want to play as a club and a manager, “said Rangnick.
“Having a clear transfer strategy, signing players who fit into that system and that’s what both clubs have been doing in the last five or six years. If I look at their transfer policy and their transfer success they haven’t had many players who after one or two years people would have said maybe that wasn’t the right signing, both clubs have been pretty successful and this is where Manchester United have to go again.
“Under Sir Alex they were there, but since then there have been quite a few different managers and in order to close the gap to those two clubs – I wouldn’t say we have to do the same thing, we have our own identity as a club, who should always go there own pathway – but professional football is pretty easy.
“You have to an identity how you want to play, even how the supporters want to see us play and this has always been attractive, offensive, proactive football, entertaining football, and then from there make sure the recruitment is right, you have to be quick enough, fast enough in the transfer market, knowing the transfer market and signing the right players in the right moment. “
City are big favorites for this weekend’s derby but Rangnick has seen enough progress in the three months he has spent in charge to believe United have a realistic chance of getting a result.
“I don’t know if I would call it a shock result,” he said. “On paper, they seem to be favorites for that game but games are not being decided on paper, they are being decided on the pitch.
“And I am convinced that we can win the game, that we can create moments where we create chances ourselves but it’s highly important that we don’t let them dominate the game as they did in November and this is what it is all about in this game. “
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