Manchester United host Championship outfit Middlesbrough at Old Trafford on Friday evening in the fourth round of the FA Cup with the Reds hoping to end their four-year trophy drought this season.
Ralf Rangnick’s side go into the fixture having won three of their previous four matches in all competitions.
Here’s what the German had to say at his press conference on Friday afternoon…
Feeling within the squad
With the last six days coming as a shock to most involved within Manchester United due to several reasons, Rangnick claimed: “We had a good and normal week of training, with five training sessions.
“Obviously, I suppose it was a topic within the team [ongoing police investigation concerning Mason Greenwood], but we are all human beings. We could train under normal circumstances, and we are looking forward to the game tomorrow.”
The club reiterated earlier on Friday that Mason Greenwood will not train with, or play for, the club until further notice.
Jesse Lingard’s future
With Jesse Lingard having been linked to a whole host of clubs in the last six months, the Englishman was expected to leave in the January transfer window.
“Three weeks ago, Jesse did not want to leave but changed his mind. I had a chat with him 10 days ago and understood why he wanted to leave; for his future and the World Cup”, said Rangnick.
In December 2020, United triggered an option to extend Lingard’s contract for a further year, with many feeling as though this was a way to gain a transfer fee for the 29-year-old.
However, the academy graduate is now expected to leave on a free in the summer.
Rangnick continued: “Developments in the last few days meant things changed, and an agreement was not found with any club.”
The interim manager also confirmed that Lingard asked for “a couple of days off to clear his mind.”
This comes after failing to agree a deal away from Manchester United.
Since then, Lingard took to Twitter, claiming:
“The club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons! But my headspace is clear and I’ll always be professional when called upon and give 100 percent.”
The club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons! But my headspace is clear and I’ll always be professional when called upon and give 100 percent
— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) February 3, 2022
With United not completing any incomings in January, there was no shortage of outgoings, with Donny van de Beek, Anthony Martial and Amad Diallo all leaving the club on short-term loan deals.
Rangnick said: “The group was slightly too big, we had too many players not seeing the chance to get regular game time.
“I am happy for Donny, Anthony and Amad. They deserve to get regular game time. Hopefully they come back in the summer with good form.”
Martial completed a loan deal to Sevilla, with Scottish champions Rangers, the club where Amad will spend the rest of the season. Meanwhile, it was new Everton boss, Frank Lampard who lured van de Beek away from Old Trafford.
All three deals do not include any buy option for the respective clubs, with the arrival of a new manager expected in the summer possibly changing the fortunes for the trio.
Expectations for full backs
Since Rangnick’s arrival in November, the German has often rotated in the full-back positions. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw and Alex Telles have all been given their fair share of opportunities.
Due to international commitments, the interim manager confirmed that Luke Shaw will play on Friday.
In his press conference, the former RB Leipzig man said: “They [full backs] have to be both, they have to be defenders as well as offensive.
“They will be very important that we play tactically on a high level. I want them to play as offensive full-backs, almost as wingers and be modern defenders, winning one-on-one duals.”
Another academy graduate
After competing for Tunisia in the Arab Cup and Africa Cup of Nations, Rangnick confirmed Hannibal Mejbri will now train with the first-team squad.
In an exclusive interview with MUTV, the 63-year-old said: “We have Hannibal included in the squad. He will from now on, regularly train with us and be a regular member of the squad.
From what I have seen so far, I think he is a promising talent. He deserves to be part of the group for the rest of the season and also part of the group for tomorrow’s game.”
With United short of numbers in central areas, the 19-year-old may be given more chances than many expect over the remainder of the season.