Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has urged his players to follow the lead of Cristiano Ronaldo and be more direct with one another.

Ronaldo called for United fans to have patience with Rangnick's approach in a recent interview with Sky Sports, and said he and his team-mates "can do better".

The 36-year-old added that he does not want to be "in sixth place or seventh place" and that he returned to the club "to try to win, to compete."

United have only lost one of Rangnick's seven matches in charge across all competitions, but recent performances have received criticism from fans and pundits alike, including Monday's 1-0 FA Cup win against Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Villa in the Premier League, Rangnick said he was pleased to hear Ronaldo's words, and said he hopes the rest of his players can show the same attitude.

"We have so many top, talented players," he told reporters. "It brings me back to what Cristiano said – we have to work and develop as a team together and if it's necessary to speak in a very direct manner to the boys, it helps a lot, even in the locker room.

"If Cristiano, for example, or any of the other players address that to the players directly on the pitch or in the dressing room, they are more than welcome to do that.

"I will do that myself as a coach – and my coaching staff in the pre-and-post match video – but we can only develop individual players if we develop the performances of the team.

"It's not only Cristiano, we have Edinson [Cavani], we have Harry [Maguire], we have quite a few other older players, David de Gea in goal, Victor Lindelof, Bruno [Fernandes]. 

"We have enough experienced older players who can not only be role models in training, on the pitch and in games, but also in all those conversations that happen in the locker room or when they are together in the hotel for away games or home games. This has to happen.

"In a united team, that happens automatically, and I can only invite and challenge and tell all the players, also the older players, to do that on a regular basis because that helps even more so in a team that we have currently."

The Red Devils currently sit seventh in the Premier League, 22 points behind leaders Manchester City and six behind West Ham in fourth place, but with two games in hand over both.