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Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has defended his players after they were accused of showing a lack of effort during their 4-1 derby defeat to Manchester City.
Speaking on Sky Sports, United legend Gary Neville said his former team “were a disgrace in the last 25 minutes” at the Etihad Stadium while Roy Keane said the performance in the second half was “shameful” and “unforgivable.”
Asked afterwards about the comments, Rangnick said City — who won thanks to two goals each from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez — had been the better team, particularly in the second half during which United managed just 21% possession and did not have a shot, but refused to accept his players had given up once the score got to 3-1.
“I didn’t have the impression that they didn’t try,” Rangnick said.
“It’s difficult against Manchester City because they are the best team in possession on the planet. I can’t blame anyone for not trying but it was difficult after the third goal.”
During a tense post-match news conference, Rangnick was also forced to dismiss speculation that Cristiano Ronaldo had missed the game after being told he would not be part of the starting XI.
“I have to believe my medical department,” he added.
“Our doctor came to see me Friday morning before training and said Cristiano could not train because of some problems with his hip flexor and the same was true on Saturday and that is why he could not be part of the squad.”
Forward Edinson Cavani was also missing despite returning to training on Thursday, meaning Rangnick was forced to start with Bruno Fernandes as a false nine.
“If players tell the doctors they are not fit and cannot play I have to accept it,” Rangnick added.
“Edi trained in the last three days, he trained well but he still felt after those three training sessions that he is not fit to play. As a manager I cannot force a player if he does not feel fit to play.”