London (AFP) – Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick says fans are entitled to voice their opinions ahead of an expected protest against the club’s unpopular ownership before Saturday’s Premier League match against lowly Norwich.
The 1958 group has announced plans for supporters to march to Old Trafford ahead of the game.
They plan to remain outside the stadium until the 17th minute of the match, marking one minute for each year of the Glazer family’s ownership.
There was a heavy security presence around United’s Carrington training ground on Friday after around 30 fans congregated with an anti-Glazer banner before the gathering was dispersed by the police.
“We know that football is a game of passion and emotion,” Rangnick said. “I think we can all understand our supporters are disappointed both with where we stand in the table but also the performance which we showed against Everton.
“But I believe our supporters are one of, if not the, best in England and as long as they protest in a peaceful way and as long as they still support the team in the stadium I think they have the right to express their opinion. I can understand they have been disappointed.”
On May 2 last year, Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford was called off after a planned peaceful protest — estimated to be 1,000-strong — escalated, with fans breaking into the stadium and causing damage.
Feelings against the US owners have intensified again since the failed European Super League project and United’s on-field struggles have added to the sense of frustration among fans.
Last week’s 1-0 defeat at Everton, coupled with Tottenham’s 4-0 win at Aston Villa, has left United six points off the top four with seven games left to play, making qualification for next year’s Champions league unlikely.
Rangnick believes the team has improved since he took over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked in November, but said they had lacked consistency.
“What we couldn’t do is do it in a sustainable way and a longer period of time,” said the German. “I’m disappointed by that. I thought we could have played sustainably on a higher level. I’m not happy with that for sure but this is what we will try to do for the rest of the season.”
England left-back Luke Shaw is expected to miss the rest of the campaign following an operation to remove metal bolts from his leg.
“He will be out for at least another four or five weeks,” Rangnick said. “It will be difficult for him to be available for the remaining seven games.”
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