Ralf Rangnick braced for ‘extremely good’ Liverpool with familiar faces on show

Naby Keita is one of several Anfield players who were coached by the German earlier in their careers.

Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick is braced for a tough examination against Liverpool (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer

Ralf Rangnick is braced to face an “extremely good” Liverpool side featuring players the interim Manchester United boss helped on their path to the top.

All eyes will be on Anfield as the rivals go toe-to-toe on Tuesday evening, six months on from Jurgen Klopp’s men securing a stunning 5-0 Old Trafford win in the reverse fixture.

Naby Keita opened the scoring that day and previously said Rangnick treated him “like a son” when bringing him to RB Salzburg, with the interim United boss also going on to coach him at RB Leipzig.

Liverpool’s Naby Keita has credited Ralf Rangnick with having a big influence on his career (Joe Giddens/PA)

The 63-year-old was also involved in the careers of future Liverpool players Sadio Mane, Ibrahima Konate and Takumi Minamino having begun working as the two Red Bull clubs’ sporting director in 2012.

Furthermore, Rangnick signed Roberto Firmino when he was managing Hoffenheim and impressive centre-back Joel Matip played under him at Schalke.

“They are good, they’re extremely good,” Rangnick said of Liverpool. “It’s no coincidence that they’re as good as they are.

“Jurgen has built that team in the last six and a half years.

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“Six or seven of those players used to be my/our players when we signed them for our clubs when nobody knew them.

“Again, it’s no coincidence that this is probably the club with the highest number of players from our former clubs because their approach, their style of football, the way they want to play is pretty similar.”

Rangnick knows United need to raise their performance from Saturday’s helter-skelter 3-2 triumph against rock-bottom Norwich if they are to take anything away from Anfield.

“Of course they will (show their desire to finish in the top four),” he said.

The way that we defend is still not the standard that we need

Ralf Rangnick

“Of course they also showed today that they were trying to win that game but, as I said, for me it’s a question of being physical enough in those moments and it was not the first time today, it happened in games earlier on.

“If I still remember the game at Leeds, where we played at the end with Scotty (McTominay) and with Fred, yes it was a battle and we were up to the standards at Leeds, but this has to happen more regularly.

“It’s quite obvious. Even the reason why the club contacted me in November was the fact we just conceded too many goals too easily.

“We reduced the number of goals conceded but the way that we defend is still not the standard that we need in order to be a top-four club.”

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