Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has provided the latest update on how his squad is shaping up for Monday’s game against Brentford.
The Reds host the Bees in the Premier League at Old Trafford (20:00 BST) on Bank Holiday Monday, off the back of Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
In the aftermath of that match, Rangnick conducted his pre-Brenford press conference with journalists at the Theatre of Dreams, in which he provided an update on several United players who missed the meeting with the Blues.
Jadon Sancho was sidelined through illness, while the Reds were also without Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Fred, Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka also did not make the squad after being a doubt and Jesse Lingard was absent too.
Despite those absentees, Rangnick believes that the Reds could be boosted by potential returns for a number of those players on Monday.
“Right now, I don’t know but I hope Fred will make it for the Brentford game. Tonight, was too early for him,” our interim manager said of Fred, who has missed our last four matches with an injury sustained in the trip to Everton earlier this month.
“As it seems, Jadon might be out for the rest of the season with his tonsillitis, so he will most likely be unavailable against Brentford.
“Edinson Cavani is supposed to come back to training tomorrow [Friday] but then again, the question is he has been missing for the last four or five weeks, quite a long time, is he really a player who could then play against Brentford? Probably not to start with but at least from the bench.
“Apart from that, we have to wait and see. Harry Maguire [also missed the game v Chelsea], Jesse was missing for personal, family reasons today. I hope that some of those players will be back on Monday.”
BRENTFORD TEAM NEWS
In his press conference ahead of the game at Old Trafford, visiting head coach Thomas Frank provided the Bees’ latest squad update.
The Dane says that recent absentees Christian Norgaard and Kristoffer Ajer should be available to play on Monday, while the fixture will come too soon for Ethan Pinnock.
The same can be said for Sergi Canos, Frank Onyeka and Saman Ghoddos. The latter has a twisted ankle.
Ralf Rangnick has suggested Manchester United should target players with a similar profile to Erling Haaland in the transfer market.
Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland, 21, is expected to join Manchester City in the summer when his €75million release clause becomes active. City officials are understood to have visited Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola, during negotiations.
United attempted to sign Haaland for €20m from Red Bull Salzburg when Rangnick was their sporting director in December 2019 but the Norwegian chose to join Dortmund, where he has plundered 82 goals in 86 games.
Rangnick confirmed he would stay on as a consultant to United on a two-year contract even though he is expected to accept an offer to coach the Austria national team. The German recommended United sign two strikers in the summer as Cristiano Ronaldo’s future is uncertain and Edinson Cavani is expected to leave at the end of his contract.
Rangnick reiterated United should prioritise recruiting younger players with a high ceiling, something Rangnick excelled in during his sporting director role with the Red Bull group.
“For me, the most important bit is recruitment now,” Rangnick said. “This is, for me, the most vital point, that we bring in the best possible players and speak about that, who could that be.
“It is not only identifying those players but meeting them, convincing them to join the club even though we will not be playing in the Champions League, so this is what I see as the most important bit.
“Again, also, in regards to the top talented players from the academy, identifying those players. We spoke about Mason Greenwood, he was probably one of the most talented players in the last couple of years. This is for me, right now, for the next one or two years, the most important part.
“My personal opinion is the club should try to find future top star players and develop them. Again, on the other hand, just tell me five players that might be some of those players you spoke about.”
When Haaland was mentioned, Rangnick replied: “Haaland is a young player, he is 21 or 22, this is one of those players I spoke about. But, on the other hand, he has developed into one of the most expensive strikers in the world.
“He could be one of those examples where I think the focus should be on to try and identify and find and then convince players who could be Manchester United players for the next couple of years.
“It is obvious the club and the team need more players, for the very reason that quite a few players have no contracts anymore and some other players are not available anymore, some players might want to get more game-time and are on loan already. It is obvious the club needs quite a few new players.
“I already told you how I see that. For me, it’s important the club identifies scouts and then recruits those kinds of players to develop Manchester United into one of the top teams again and therefore, you need mentality, quality, physicality, pace, skills, you need the full package.”
Manchester United will have to wait until Monday night before resuming their fading top-four charge whey they welcome Brentford to Old Trafford in what is their final home game of the season (8pm). Before that meeting both Arsenal and Tottenham find themselves in action.
A midweek draw with Chelsea means United are five points behind fourth-placed Arsenal and have also played an extra two games than the Gunners. As such, Ralf Rangnick and his team can only amass 64 points this season, while Arsenal have totted-up 60 with five matches to play.
Beyond the season finale plans are starting to fall into place for the Ten Hag regime. Figures in the boardroom have drawn up the framework for a potential deal involving England midfielder Kalvin Phillips – although his current team Leeds do not expect him to leave this summer.
Reports have also circulated suggesting United transfer negotiator Matt Judge has resigned from his position.
Ralf Rangnick does not intend to ‘gift’ Manchester United players farewells against Brentford and Jadon Sancho could be out for their remaining three fixtures.
United play their final home game of the season on Monday in what is expected to be the last possible chance for out-of-contract trio Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard to appear at Old Trafford for the club.
Matic has started in the last three games and is expected to keep his place due to a shortage of central midfielders but Mata has not started in the Premier League since the final day of last season. Jesse Lingard started against Norwich earlier this month but had to withdraw from the Chelsea squad due to personal family reasons.
Juventus are open to a move for Nemanja Matic this summer, according to Tuttosport.
There are many players set to leave United at the end of this campaign and central midfield is an area that United will need to strengthen. Matic and Pogba are both set to exit the club upon their contracts expiring.
Juventus have been linked with a move for Pogba, but they’re also credited with an interest in Matic.
Matic has claimed it has been ‘an honour’ to play for United.
Will he stay or will he go? There is plenty of speculation over Cristano Ronaldo.
Here is what Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson is predicting will happen;
According to reports from The Athletic, Matt Judge has resigned as head of corporate development at United and as such will not play an active role in their upcoming summer recruitment drive. Judge was appointed to that role under Ed Woodward in 2014 – having been at the club since 2012 – and was a key figure responsible for leading transfer and contract negotiations.
Ralf Rangnick has spoken with the media before the Brentford game.
With that here is the current state of play on the United treatment table;
Harry Maguire (knee) – OUT
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (knock) – Back in training
Luke Shaw (leg) – OUT
Fred (hip/calf) – Back in training
Paul Pogba (calf) – OUT
Jadon Sancho (illness) – OUT
Edinson Cavani (calf) – Back in training
Juan Mata has agreed with Nemanja Matic’s controversial comments that Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea was an improvement following their recent run of form.
United managed to salvage a point against Thomas Tuchel’s side on Thursday night, despite being second best for the majority of the match. Marcos Alonso gave Chelsea a deserved lead in the second-half, but United were level moments later when Cristiano Ronaldo smashed in an equaliser.
Ralf Rangnick’s side were thrashed by Liverpool at Anfield last week and lost at Arsenal last weekend, meaning the draw with Chelsea was undeniably a better result on the day. However, United found themselves dominated for much of the match and looked well off the standards set by Chelsea.
Despite this, Mata was happy with the United performance and how the team dug in to secure a point having fallen behind in the match.
“I think that the team today showed the reaction,” he told MUTV. “[We showed] that we can compete when we give everything.
“[We showed] that we can fight together, that we can attack and defend together and that’s what we did today. Each of us gave everything we had.”
Mata’s comments echoed those of fellow veteran Matic who claimed the result was an ‘improvement’. United legend Roy Keane slammed the Serbian for his comments, disputing the claim that United had played better than in previous weeks.
“Raise the standards. Where is the desire to keep going until the end?” Keane ranted on Sky Sports after the draw.
“Matic’s talking about I’m leaving I’ve had a great time, Man United will always be in my heart, oh and Chelsea as well by the way, oh and Benfica don’t forget them. They all can’t be in your heart.”
Your latest Manchester United news and morning headlines on Saturday, April 30.
Rangnick gives Ten Hag advice
Ralf Rangnick had advised incoming United manager Erik ten Hag to throw himself into negotiations with prospective signings. Failure to qualify for the Champions League is expected to impact pulling power in the summer transfer market, as it did in 2019.
At that stage United were reduced to recruiting Dan James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire. None of them have been an outright success as James has already moved on to arch-rivals Leeds United.
Interim manager Rangnick does not intend to ‘gift’ farewells to United players against Brentford and Jadon Sancho may be out for the remaining three fixtures this season. United play their final home game on Monday in what will be the last possible chance for out-of-contract Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Jesse Lingard to appear for the club at Old Trafford.
Matic has started in the last three games and is expected to keep his place due to a shortage of central midfielders, but Mata has not started in the Premier League since the final day of last season. Lingard was handed a start against Norwich City earlier in the month but had to withdraw from the Chelsea squad due to personal reasons.
Sancho missed that 1-1 draw due to tonsillitis. Moving forward, he is waiting for the inflammation to subside before he can have them removed.
Ian Wright believes there are eight Manchester United players who Erik ten Hag can build a team around when he arrives at the end of the season.
Last week, United brought an end to months of speculation when they announced Ten Hag as their next permanent manager. The Dutchman will arrive from Ajax at the end of the season and has signed a deal until 2025.
It is expected to be a summer of change for United with Nemanja Matic confirmed to be leaving and Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba among those expected to depart. United have endured a torrid campaign and are expected to miss out on a place in the top four.
Despite this, Wright believes there are still plenty of players who can help take the club forward. Speaking as a co-host on the Kelly & Wrighty Show (via the Daily Express), Wright said: “So you think to yourself, if Ten Hag can come in, with these very good players.
“Because they are very good players, I like [Diogo] Dalot, I like [Alex] Telles who’s come in, Harry Maguire with the right people. Of course, if you give him the right protection, we’ve seen that he’s going to be okay.
“Scott McTominay’s got that engine, Fred we’ve seen him play very well. Then up front you’ve got [Cristiano] Ronaldo, you’ve got [Jadon] Sancho and then [Marcus] Rashford once he gets his form.
“So you’ve got players that if they’re organised in a structure and they start playing in the structure and they start getting confidence in it, they will beat teams.”