Rangnick struggling for positives after United lets victory slip at Villa

Manchester United dominated most of the first half at Villa Park but Aston Villa's debutant Philippe Coutinho came off the bench to inspire a home comeback.

Ralf Rangnick

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick ahead of a Premier League match against Aston Villa at Villa Park on January 15.   -  AP

Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick said it was hard to find positives after his side failed to capitalise on its best 30 minutes of his watch in a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

United, without the injured Cristiano Ronaldo, dominated most of the first half at Villa Park and was 2-0 up after 67 minutes thanks to a double by Bruno Fernandes.

But Aston Villa's debutant Philippe Coutinho came off the bench to inspire a home comeback, setting up a goal by Jacob Ramsey and then equalising to leave United stunned.

After winning his first two Premier League games in charge after taking over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager, Rangnick's side has picked up five points from its next four games and still has not won away under the German.

It remains seventh in the standings, a point behind Tottenham Hotspur which has two games in hand.

Rangnick's side dominated Villa early with its pressing game. But it was unable to maintain the intensity.

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"It is very difficult to find positives after these 95 minutes," Rangnick said. "I felt it was the best game since I came here. In the first half, for 30 minutes, we dominated. We took some steps forward but have a few things to do better.

"The plan was to press them in the midzone and we did that very well in the first 30 minutes, and control the ball, and those were the positives. When you are 2-0 up, you have to defend better than we did in the last 15 minutes."

Villa was much improved in the second half but Rangnick said United should have taken the three points home.

"It feels like a defeat, to be honest," he said. "In the last 15 minutes we were not as compact and conceded two goals."

Villa manager Steven Gerrard conceded he had an "honest" discussion with his players at halftime after a disappointingly lacklustre opening half in which his side was off the pace.

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"It took some honesty at halftime because we have to demand more from the players," Gerrard said. "For the first 25 minutes, we were second best and didn't do what we wanted to do.

"Credit to them they were better than us. We were passive and second best and deserved to be in the position we were."

The introduction of Gerrard's old Liverpool teammate Coutinho off the bench for his Villa debut with 20 minutes remaining helped turn the match with the Brazilian setting up Jacob Ramsey and scoring the equaliser himself.

"Phil has played a cameo and we got two goals. You don't lose talent, he just needs to be in a place where he feels loved and supported. He's 29 and still has that hunger," Gerrard said of Coutinho who is on loan from Barcelona.

"Once he's fitter and stronger I've no doubt he will score goals for this team."

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