Rio Ferdinand outlines biggest factor which has held Manchester United back since Ralf Rangnick’s appointment

The ex-United defender also explained why he feels Harry Maguire is struggling this season.

Rio Ferdinand feels a lack of time on the training pitch has stunted Manchester United’s progression in the early weeks of Ralf Rangnick’s tenure at the club.

The former defender was speaking after the Red Devils’s 3-1 win over Brentford on Wednesday night, with academy graduates Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford all scoring.

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There were encouraging signs from the second-half showing in the capital, which Ferdinand hopes will continue throughout the final months of the campaign.

United need more time on the training ground, according to Ferdinand. Credit: Getty.

However, since Rangnick’s appointment last month he has had to deal with a Covid-19 outbreak at the club, a congested fixture schedule and the hectic festive and New Year period.

It’s due to this the interim manager has so far struggled to stamp his authority on the team, according to Ferdinand.

“What he said when he came in, Rangnick, is he would improve individuals and that the team would improve, the fitness as well, that’s what you want to see,” the 43-year-old said on BT Sport’s Premier League Tonight show.

“I think up until now we’ve not really seen that as often as you’d like.  Now you want to see some regular improvement and some consistency with this team and the way they play, and results.

“From what I’m hearing, there haven’t been many days they’ve had the full squad on the training ground to work on things, and I think that’s where you get things right. The end result is seeing it out here [on the pitch]. But you need to have the time on the training field to do that, and I don’t think he’s been afford that as of yet.

“So that’s been an issue for him, but also confidence. This club hasn’t just become one that isn’t challenging for a title over night; it’s been a long time, a sustained period they’ve been in this position. The confidence they’re lacking has been there for a long.

Manchester United beat Brentford 3-1 on Wednesday night in the Premier League. Credit: Getty.

“An £80m defender, the captain, is low on confidence. Now he’s out of the team. Marcus Rashford, the hopes of Manchester United for a long time were on his shoulders, sub today, although comes on and makes an impact. So you can’t say you were expecting him [Rangnick] to come in and produce miracles immediately.

“But you want to see consistent improvement and, from today onwards, you’d like to think a win at a difficult place to come, there’s something to build on there hopefully.”

United’s top-four hopes

The victory over Brentford strengthened United’s aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League next season, and Ferdinand believes this squad are more than capable of finishing in the top four this term.

“They’ve got a good run of games by the way. When he took over, Rangnick, the run of games were quite good to him, games you’d expect them to win,” said the former England captain. “But they need to take points off teams around them, that’s going to be an important factor.

“The saving grace for Man United, of the chasing pack for Europe, no-one under Man City and Liverpool can win 5-10 games on the bounce. They haven’t shown that they can do that yet. That’s where the chance is going to come because people are going to drop points and I think that will ebb and flow throughout the season.”