LONDON (REUTERS) - Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick said on Friday (Jan 7) that the team needed to show unity on the pitch amid media reports that some of the players are unhappy with the German's methods since he took over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United suffered their first defeat under Rangnick against Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this week, with the manager left to rue a disjointed performance that was typical of a side that has struggled this season.
The 1-0 loss left United in seventh place in the league, four points off the Champions League places but with a game in hand.
Speaking ahead of Monday's FA Cup third-round game at home to Aston Villa, Rangnick told reporters: "I mean, yes we have made some progress, but obviously versus Wolves was a step back, a relapse of habits we have shown in the past.
"We need to insist that we need to work together. We can only get better in possession of the ball, together. We have to do things together. With passion, emotion and intensity. This was the problem against Wolves. We were only escorting them."
He added that the players were still adjusting to his tactical structure but urged the team to strike a balance in their style of play.
"They're at least trying, I'm sure they are listening, and we showed that in the last games against Palace, Burnley, and parts against Norwich and Newcastle they are trying to follow the advice I give them," said Rangnick.
"We concede fewer goals than before... We need to find the best possible balance between offence and defence, and this is something we have to get better at.
"Forward Anthony Martial has already requested to leave Old Trafford in the January transfer window, while midfielder Jesse Lingard is also looking for a new club after reportedly growing frustrated due to a lack of game time under the new manager.
Rangnick said that was bound to happen given the size of United's squad.
"This is not only an issue with a club like Manchester United, when you have a big squad... we have players with contracts expiring in the summer... it's about the players dealing with that in a professional way."