Ralf Rangnick has said that moving to Manchester United has been “a massive step” for Jadon Sancho, pledging to support him as he continues his development.
While he scored his fourth goal of the season against Southampton at the weekend, Sancho is yet to produce his best form for Manchester United. He is still waiting to register his first assist for the club, having tallied 16 goals and 20 assists in his final season at Borussia Dortmund.
With United paying £73m for his services last summer, there was always going to be enormous pressure on Sancho at Old Trafford. Asked to assess the England wide man’s progress ahead of his side’s meeting with Brighton on Tuesday evening, Ralf Rangnick offered qualified praise but also called for patience.
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“Well, Jadon, I’ve known Jadon since he was 17 when he still played in England [in the Manchester City academy],” said Rangnick.
“I contacted him and his agent when he was 17 and tried to convince him to join us at Leipzig. In the end he decided to go to Dortmund and had a great time there.
“He became one of the best wingers in the whole league, if not in Europe. And, yes, the step to a club like Manchester United was a big one.
“[It would have been] for anyone at the time, a 21-year-old. That was a massive, huge step.
“This takes time, it’s normal for me. I think the style of football that we want to play fits perfectly his assets, his strengths, coming from the left side.
“I also try to give him my support and tell him that he should have a go, even in this league that is more physical and more competitive [than the Bundesliga].”
Despite Sancho’s goal, United could only muster up a 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday. Having produced the same result against Burnley last week they are currently fifth in the Premier League, albeit only one point behind West Ham with a game in hand.
Asked about United’s ambitions for the rest of the season and beyond, Rangnick said: “Right now, this is exactly what Manchester United needs and wants: to finish fourth in the league.
“This is the highest possible achievement we can get. In the league, it’s number four, that’s what we have to achieve and what we’re aiming at.
“After being here 11 weeks I know what it takes for next season, but it’s not the time now to discuss this with everyone. My full focus is tomorrow, Sunday, Wednesday and the next couple of weeks.
“My full focus is on the current squad, getting the best out of this season and then it’s time to speak about the next steps for the next couple of years.”
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Nonetheless, he conceded that, having failed to win in three games in all competitions going back to their FA Cup defeat to Middlesbrough, his players are low on confidence.
“It is pretty obvious if you are 1-0 up in 11 out of 13 games and you win half of them, and in three consecutive games you concede an equaliser, then it also affects the minds of the players,” he said.
“They think they should be 2-0 up or 3-0 up and it is 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.”
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