Ralf Rangnick insisted Manchester United must develop as a "whole team", adding that a partnership between Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes was not his priority.

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford in early September and has since netted 14 goals across all competitions as he leads the Premier League and Champions League scoring charts.

The 36-year-old found the net and assisted another in a comfortable 3-1 win over Burnley that moved United up to sixth on Thursday – the forward registering double figures for goal involvements in a 17th consecutive league season.

But there have been questions about whether Ronaldo and compatriot Fernandes, who missed the Burnley game through suspension, can fit into the same team together and work effectively.

Former United captain Gary Neville aimed criticism at the pair following a disappointing 1-1 draw with Newcastle United on Monday, labelling the duo as "whingebags" who were having a "devastating" impact on United's underwhelming season thus far.

Rangnick previously commented on the body language of United players in the slender win over Norwich City, while he has also insisted that the Red Devils will not solely rely on the Portugal pair.

"Against Burnley, we had to play without Bruno and again we did well, we played with two strikers, two wingers, two number sixes, every player in his best possible position," he told Sky Sports.

"This is another thing we are trying to achieve, no matter which formation we are trying to play we have every player in his best possible position.

"So it is not only about the partnership between Cristiano and Bruno, it is about partnerships between other players.

"Yesterday [Thursday] it was about a partnership between Edinson [Cavani] and Cristiano and it worked well. Edinson was the player with the highest distance [covered] in the whole team.

"Since we will change the team and starting line-up every game it is about different partnerships and developing the whole team.

"They should play with the same mindset and principles when we are in possession of the ball or when the other team is in possession."

Fernandes was an integral figure in propelling United to Champions League qualification last campaign as he netted 28 times for United in all competitions. 

That was the best return by a midfielder for a Premier League club in a single campaign, surpassing Frank Lampard's 27 for Chelsea in 2009-10, but he has failed to hit those lofty heights this term with five top-flight goals to his name so far.

Whether Fernandes comes back into the team for the visit of Wolves on January 3 remains unclear, but Rangnick is aware that man-management will be key to his success in Manchester.

He added: "This is always about man management, having a good relationship with the players. But also be aware that you're the one to take the decisions.

"Who is going to play, who will be substituted, who will be on the bench or possibly not even make it into the squad for the next game."

United spent heavily in the last transfer window, bringing in Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, though that does not necessarily rule out further transfer activity in January.

Anthony Martial has also stated his desire to seek new pastures away from United, but Rangnick believes it is too soon to start thinking about potential signings and departures with an abundance of first-team players to choose from already.

"[It's] too early now," he responded when asked about transfer dealings in the new year. "The current squad is big enough, with a lot of competition in the squad.

"To speak about future players coming into the club doesn't make sense at this stage when we have to find out which player is in which position, the best possible solution for every game.

"Right now for me, it doesn't make sense to think about future players. My full focus is on the current squad and to find for each game the best possible formation and line-up."