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'unusual situation’ Ralf Rangnick insists Manchester United will not be derailed by Mason Greenwood suspension


Ralf Rangnick, interim manager of Manchester United. Photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Ralf Rangnick, interim manager of Manchester United. Photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Ralf Rangnick, interim manager of Manchester United. Photo: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Ralf Rangnick has called for unity at Manchester United in the wake of Mason Greenwood’s arrest and urged his squad not to allow the situation to derail their season.

United reaffirmed their position yesterday that Greenwood would not train or play for them until further notice despite the 20-year-old striker being released on bail pending further investigation following his arrest on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and threats to kill.

Rangnick admitted Greenwood’s arrest had been a “topic within the team” and a subject of “internal discussions” by the club management. But the interim United manager called on his players not to allow it to become a distraction.

“I didn’t speak that much with the current players about what happened, I’m pretty sure that they did,” Rangnick said ahead of tonight’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford. “We had internal discussions, but everyone will understand those should stay internal.

“It’s an unusual situation for everybody and nobody would want to experience that. It’s an ongoing process and we have to put our focus on tomorrow and then Tuesday at Burnley. This is all I can say.

“Obviously, everybody would have wanted those things not to happen, but they did and this is what it’s all about in life that you have to stay together and be united on that and still keep going.”

“We have won the last two games in the Premier League and now we want to be successful and proceed to the next round in the FA Cup and then on Tuesday hopefully be ready for three points away at Burnley.

“We had a good normal week of training. Obviously, it was a topic within the team. They’re human beings and Mason was part of the group before we had our break.”

Rangnick confirmed the Greenwood situation was a factor behind the decision not to allow Jesse Lingard to leave in the January transfer window after the England forward was denied a loan move to Newcastle, West Ham and other suitors on deadline day on Monday, 24 hours after Greenwood’s initial arrest.

“In a way, yes,” Rangnick said. “It was two things: one thing was obviously we had a problem with Mason and being without a player for the time being who has played regularly. On the other hand, the club couldn’t find an agreement with any other club [for Lingard]. With the window closing on Monday, the board informed me they would rather he stay and that is something I fully understand.”

United’s stance left Lingard frustrated and Rangnick admitted the 29-year-old had been given time off to “clear his mind” and would not return to training until Monday.

But that move and Rangnick’s decision to bow to Edinson Cavani’s request for an additional two days off has left the German open to accusations of pandering to his players.

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Cavani played for Uruguay in their 4-1 win over Venezuela on Tuesday and is not due back in Manchester until the weekend, meaning the 34-year-old, like Lingard, will be unavailable against Middlesbrough.

Nonetheless, Rangnick said he expected Lingard to be professional between now and the end of the season.

“I had a few discussions with him in the last few weeks and I’m sure once he’s back with the squad on Monday he will try to give his very best,” Rangnick said. “It’s in his own interest but also in the interest of the club.”

Paul Pogba, meanwhile, could start tonight after three months out with a thigh injury.

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