Ralf Rangnick urges Manchester United players to prove ‘commitment’ against Everton

United face Everton on Saturday

Ralf Rangnick expects Manchester United’s match at Everton on Saturday to be decided on the “character and commitment” of both sides but admitted he had not consistently got that from his own players.

With their own top-four chances on the line, United will face an Everton team fighting for survival at Goodison Park in what is sure to be a tense atmosphere.

“Definitely the most important part will be character and energy, commitment to winning the game in that atmosphere which will probably be pretty similar to the one at Leeds,” Rangnick said.

“We are well aware of the importance of that game for both sides, for them it has high importance and for us as well. Game plan and tactics is one thing but what is most important is mentality, attitude and physicality and this will probably decide it.”

The commitment of several United players has been repeatedly questioned this season as they struggle to keep up with Tottenham and Arsenal in the Champions League fight, winning only two of their last eight Premier League games, and Rangnick admitted they have fallen short of the required levels.

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“We have that quite often but not consistently,” he said. “We have had a good week of training, we trained very aggressively in the last couple of days and now it is up to us to play as we trained.

“It will be a question of who is more competitive tomorrow, who is more aggressive, who is winning the second balls. They are playing in a very direct way – I watched their game at Burnley and it was one of those games where there was only the lowest amount of time where the ball was in play.

“There were a lot of high balls in the air and we have to be prepared for that kind of competitive game tomorrow.”

Although Cristiano Ronaldo is available again after the illness that kept him out of last weekend’s draw with Leicester, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Edinson Cavani and Scott McTominay remain out – leaving United short of defensive players.

Rangnick said Shaw needs to have an operation to remove metal bolts in his leg dating from an operation on a double leg-break suffered in 2015. That is expected to sideline the England left-back for two to three weeks, ruling him out of matches away to Liverpool and Arsenal later this month.

Rangnick would not be drawn on reports that Erik ten Hag is the chosen man to take over at United on a permanent basis this summer, but did have praise for the Ajax boss.

“I think this press conference is for tomorrow’s game,” he said. “I don’t tend to speak about any new possible manager.

“What I know about all the managers the club has spoken to so far, they are top managers, top coaches, and if this includes Erik ten Hag it is also true of him.

“That’s all I can say about that at this stage. For me it’s about preparing for tomorrow’s game.”

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Rangnick’s own future has been a topic of conversation this week, with the Austrian Football Association issuing a statement to deny reports they had met with the German to discuss their own vacancy after Franco Foda stepped down in the wake of their failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Rangnick, 63, has a two-year contract to remain as a consultant at United beyond this season, and said any discussions about what is next for him can wait.

“As you know I have agreed a contract as an advisor,” he said. “We will speak about that in the next couple of weeks and at the end of the season. Right now my full focus is on tomorrow.”

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