Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has defended Raphael Varane following his unconvincing display against Newcastle.
The France centre-back was making his first appearance in almost two months after a hamstring injury. And he looked shaky from the off as he had a role in Allan Saint-Maximin giving the hosts the lead.
In fact, Varane’s last game before the 1-1 draw at St James’ Park – the 2-2 Champions League draw at Atalanta – was only his second after coming back from a thigh injury.
As such, he has only made 10 appearances since his summer move from Real Madrid as he continues to settle in.
Rangnick admitted that the defender “made a mistake” against Newcastle. However, he insisted that the whole team has to perform better.
“Raphael has not played for the last five or six weeks,” the coach told a press conference. “Even before the Tottenham game he was injured, so in the last three months he hasn’t played that many games.
“Yes, he made a mistake before the first goal we conceded but apart from that I think he was okay. I wouldn’t say he was outstanding, the same with Harry [Maguire], but he did okay.
“Our problem was that we allowed too many transitional moments. This is not only a problem of the centre-backs, it is a problem of the whole team. It starts up front, the role of the number 10s in that kind of formation.
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“I don’t think it makes sense today to speak about the individual performance of players. We need to get better as a team.”
Burnley are the visitors to Old Trafford in United’s next Premier League game on Thursday.
United remain unbeaten in four matches under Rangnick, the German recording two draws and two wins.
Nevertheless, he admitted that he would have liked to have seen more progress – adding that the recent coronavirus outbreak at the club has somewhat scuppered that objective so far.
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“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,” the manager said.
“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. Before that we had eight or nine field players in training directly after the Norwich game and they only came back in small bits and pieces.
“The last three 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.
“Therefore it really was a bit of a, in today’s game, a negative surprise the way that we played with regard to game speed and game tempo and physicality.”