Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick insisted motivation should not be a problem at his club ahead of a clash with Norwich City on Saturday.
A narrow 1-0 loss at struggles Everton left United seventh in the Premier League, six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the final Champions League spot.
Questions have circulated over the commitment of the Red Devils players, but Rangnick believes motivation should never be a factor at Old Trafford.
“I would have thought we would have been able to play sustainably on a higher level. I’m not happy about that for sure, but we have to recover,” he said. “The goal against Everton I was not happy with at all, the unforced error in midfield from Fred’s pass and Nemanja Matic’s response, but even after that there were 12, 15 seconds we could have defended better.
“This is the problem we are having, we are not keeping clean sheets. Again, motivation shouldn’t be a problem at a club like Man United. They should always have an eternal level of motivation to compete.”
Norwich are rooted to the bottom of the table but defeated Burnley 2-0 last time out, leading to optimism from manager Dean Smith.
“I’ve already won there (with Aston Villa), why not go and win again,” Smith said. “We know it’s a tough place to go. They will be smarting over their performance and result (against Everton) and they will be looking to put it right.
“It’s a tough task, we know that, but we are not going to shy away from it. We have just had two clean sheets which gives us confidence and we have to take that into Old Trafford.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester United – Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo has been on the losing side in seven of his 25 Premier League appearances for Manchester United this season. Only twice has he lost more league games in a single top-flight campaign – in 2002-03 with Sporting CP (8) and 2003-04 with Man Utd (8).
Norwich City – Teemu Pukki
Pukki scored his 20th Premier League goal for Norwich against Burnley, becoming only the third player to do so for the Canaries after Chris Sutton (33) and Grant Holt (23).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Norwich have won just one of their last 12 away games against Manchester United in all competitions (D1 L10), winning 2-1 in the Premier League in December 2015.
– Manchester United have lost two of their last four home Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom of the table (W2), after losing just one of their first 21 such games in the competition (W16 D4). Those two most recent defeats came against West Brom in April 2018 and Sheffield United in January 2021.
– Manchester United have lost two of their last four Premier League games (W1 D1), having lost just one of their previous 15 following Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s departure (W8 D6). The Red Devils last lost consecutive league games in November 2021.
– Norwich beat Burnley 2-0 at Carrow Road last time out, just their fifth Premier League victory of the season. However, their previous four victories came in two lots of consecutive wins, including one home win and one away win both times.
– Five of Manchester United’s eight league defeats this season have come on Saturdays. Only in 2018-19 have the Red Devils lost more Premier League games on a specific day of the week (6 Sunday games).