Ralf Rangnick has spoken to the media ahead of Manchester United’s clash with Brighton on Saturday.
Unless an absolute travesty occurs, it appears that the club will be playing Europa League football next season, but the German interim boss will want to take maximum points from his remaining fixtures to end his managerial stint on a high.
Rangnick was asked about the availability of certain players, the situation with Jesse Lingard and of course Erik Ten Hag, as is often the case since the Dutchman was announced as the club’s next manager.
Here’s a breakdown of what Ralf had to say…
1. Bronchitis and back problemsEmbed from Getty Images
The first question asked revolved around the availability of players for the trip to the Amex Stadium. Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw were the ones name-dropped by the journalist, with Rangnick saying how “Harry is back in training, he trained the whole week… so he will be available for tomorrow and be part of the group”. There was no mention of Shaw whatsoever, interestingly, but the manager went on to speak about the fitness of other first-teamers.
Edinson Cavani “is in training”, with Rangnick noting how he came on as a substitute against Brentford. It was said that Marcus Rashford “will be missing, [as] he has caught bronchitis with high temperatures, so he won’t be able to be part of the group”. There is a “question mark” behind Eric Bailly’s fitness for the game, with Rangnick explaining how “he called the doctor this morning and had some back problems… and he’s being checked right now”.Embed from Getty Images
The team news was interesting on the whole. After not appearing in the final home game of the season the other night, Rashford might not feature again this campaign due to bronchitis, which rubs salt in the wounds for the 24-year-old who just hasn’t got going this year. Despite being asked about Shaw specifically, there was no mention of the Englishman, but perhaps this was just a blunder on Rangnick’s part. The manager made no guarantees over Cavani featuring, and many fans don’t expect the Uruguayan to make himself available following a lack of desire to risk his fitness in recent times. As for Bailly- he was never going to play anyway in the grand scheme of things, especially with Maguire back to fitness. Rangnick was asked about Maguire again later in the presser, saying that “he will definitely be part of the group”.
2. In touch with Ten HagEmbed from Getty Images
It is now common knowledge that whilst Ten Hag takes on the role as manager from the start of the 2022/23 campaign, Rangnick will be working behind the scenes and giving his opinions on relevant footballing matters. The 63-year-old was asked about when he will speak with Ten Hag, when he will offer his opinions to the board and when he will give an overview of where the club is at.
Rangnick said he and Ten Hag “will definitely speak at the end of the season” and that they both “want to have our full focus on the outstanding games” of their respective campaigns, and it was noted that Ten Hag is embroiled in a title challenge in the Eredivisie. Rangnick said “we have agreed we will have a chat and speak about everything at the end of the season”.
This response was to be expected. You would think that the two have probably found time to talk about basic things already. Rangnick will not want to leak the details of when they are talking and what they are talking about. Confidentiality comes across as professional in this instance.
3. Putting the Lingard situation to bedEmbed from Getty Images
Lingard has been the talk of the town these last days, yet for all the wrong reasons; he did not feature for even a cameo in what was expected to be his final outing at Old Trafford against Brentford last Monday. His brother has been vocal about the family’s displeasure on Instagram, so it was inevitable that Rangnick would be asked about Lingard in the presser.
It was a clear, coherent response from the manager, who credibly justified not giving Lingard a minute…
“To start with, I think in the last couple of weeks under my tenure, he has played far more games than he used to before I came. That’s to start with. Number two, on gameday against Chelsea, he contacted me in the hotel and asked me to release him from the game and release him from the training session the following day or two days after the Chelsea game for some personal, family reasons and I also allowed him to do that. This was also the reason that with only three subs, still, unfortunately, in all the other leagues you have five subs, I had to take a decision between bringing on Edinson Cavani or Jesse Lingard or the young Alejandro Garnacho who I would have also loved to bring on and give a chance having been 3-0 up but I took the decision to bring on Edinson for the very reasons I explained to you. Had I not brought on Edinson Cavani, maybe someone else would have posted: ‘it was classless not to bring on Edinson Cavani’ or maybe someone else would have posted: ‘why didn’t the manager bring on the young Alejandro Garnacho?’ With only three subs and two already done, or the first one had already been done, you have to take a decision. This will not be to the liking of everybody, it’s also part of the game.”Embed from Getty Images
Many fans are behind Rangnick on this one. Of course it would have been nice to see an academy lad get a farewell in front of the home fans, but Lingard has not acted classy by any means these last months. Posting images of him wearing a West Ham shirt on social media does not reflect well on the 29-year-old, and he has failed to perform when given the chance a number of times this season. He has never played well for a long, consistent period in a red shirt and ultimately he just fails to cut the mustard.
Lingard has not managed to get minutes in what is factually the worst ever Manchester United team in the Premier League era, so what does that say about his quality as a player? Fans cannot doubt for a second that he wants United to be winning games, but Lingard is an example of a player who gets too caught up in having himself in the limelight. He proved this again after the Brentford game with another cryptic Instagram post.Embed from Getty Images
The focus should have been on Juan Mata and his majestic farewell at the Theatre of Dreams in the aftermath of the win, but instead the media are embroiled in the social media antics in relation to Lingard. He was unfairly promised game time at the start of the season by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, so the frustration is understood, but his actions have been immature and disappointing. The sooner he goes, the better, now.
4. Blocking out the negative noiseEmbed from Getty Images
A question was asked about how outside noise must be counter-productive, especially the social media noise from players.
Rangnick said: “I’m not reading a lot. I haven’t had the time in the last six months to read. I’m not on Instagram as you know, [or] Facebook… my focus has always been here, with my coaching staff to develop the team”. He added that “with social media, there’s always somebody posting something, and I think it’s important for us [and] anybody at the club not to take too much notice of that, unless it’s the player himself, then it might be a different story”.
Just a standard response from Rangnick here, but the whole ‘ignore it’ mentality is a difficult one to instil around the club. Football clubs are corporate businesses nowadays, and with social media as prominent as it is, it is impossible to just ignore it when an employee posts about the club, especially considering that these players are celebrities with millions of followers.
The full pre-match press conference can be found here:
Brighton and Hove Albion vs Manchester United will take place at the Amex Stadium on Saturday 7th May, kicking off at 17:30 (BST).