Exclusive Ralf Rangnick interview with club media ahead of Man Utd v Aston Villa on January 10

Ralf, this is your first experience as a manager in the FA Cup, a historic competition, what do you think?

“When I was a young student at the University of Stuttgart, I spent the year, as you know, in England, in Brighton, as a visiting student at the University of Sussex. I played alongside a player for a small Sunday League team Southwick and their farewell gift when I left for Germany at the end of that year was a ticket to the final Cup at Wembley: West Ham v Arsenal. I think it was 1980 or 1981. I still relish that experience a lot if I think about the atmosphere there. There were 30,000 West Ham supporters and 30,000 Arsenal supporters, they had prepared individual songs for each player. “There’s only one Liam Brady,” I remember, for example. So they had a special song for each player; each player, when this song was sung by the supporters, was standing right in that corner where the supporters were. It was a very special atmosphere and like I said it was obviously the old Wembley Stadium and of course it would be great for us to experience that atmosphere in May, or whenever the final of the Cup is played out. But we are fully aware that it is still a way to go, a long way to go, and we could have had easier draws than Aston Villa. The good thing is that we are playing at home in front of our 75,000 fans and of course everyone in the squad, the players, the staff, we want to show that the relapse that we showed against Wolves, both tactically and energetically – we were way too passive, not at all proactive, this is exactly the kind of football that I hate, that I don’t want to see – I expect a completely different face from the team, a performance completely different, like I said, proactive, aggressive, putting pressure on them and also proactively playing with the ball.

And, therefore, did it help to have at least a few extra training sessions this week, without a midweek game before the FA Cup draw on Monday?

“Yes, we have already had two training sessions today [Friday] and yesterday we will have two more tomorrow [Saturday] and the day after tomorrow [Sunday] and I hope to be ready for this kind of football. We have to make sure that we play in a way, in a style, in an energetic performance, that we have the fans behind us, that they play like they’re the 12th player on the pitch. To get there we have to play that way, we can’t expect fans to do it automatically. They do it automatically at Old Trafford, but for it to last 90-95 minutes, we have to do our part.

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