London (AFP) – Ralf Rangnick said on Wednesday that Manchester United must face up to the reality their top-four hopes have likely disappeared as they prepare to take on Chelsea this week without a swathe of key players.
Harry Maguire and Jadon Sancho have joined the Red Devils’ lengthy list of absentees for Thursday’s rearranged Premier League clash with Thomas Tuchel’s team.
United are returning to Old Trafford wounded by back-to-back losses at Liverpool and Arsenal, which have all but ended any faint hopes of reaching next season’s Champions League.
“I don’t think it makes sense now to still speak and speculate about the Champions League,” United interim manager Rangnick told a press conference.
“We need to be realistic.
“Even if we win all four games, it’s still not in our own hands. But what is in our own hands is the way that we play, the level of performance.
“Even for the next season it’s important to finish this season on the best possible note.”
The German, who is set to remain at Old Trafford in an advisory role next season with current Ajax boss Erik ten Hag in the managerial hotseat, said United would still be an attractive destination for players despite their likely absence from the Champions League.
“The renewal of the contract of Bruno (Fernandes) showed that it’s still possible — this club is an attractive club and with a new manager (Erik ten Hag),” he said.
“With a new approach, with a new manager and the way he wants to play, this is still a massively interesting club.
“I am looking forward to help both Erik and the club, and everyone at the club, to get the best and to change the whole approach again next season so that Manchester United can be a top club again.”
Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Luke Shaw remain absent as does midfielder Fred, following a negative reaction after returning to training.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a doubt for the match, which captain Maguire and Sancho will also miss.
The injury issues mean Rangnick will lean on United’s youth system.
Hannibal Mejbri, 19, featured at Liverpool and 17-year-old Alejandro Garnacho has been on the bench recently, with Alvaro Fernandez, 19, another pushing to be involved.
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