The task has not been made any easier by injuries to two of Rangnick’s best defenders, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw, and two of his first choice midfielders, Fred and Scott McTominay, in addition to striker Edinson Cavani. It also remains to be seen if Cristiano Ronaldo, United’s top scorer, will play after the tragic news that his baby boy has died.
The absentees are a real cause for concern for Rangnick, who has called for an extensive review of United’s injury record after questioning how he can be missing a glut of key players when Liverpool have a clean bill of health in spite of their congested schedule.
Whereas United only have the league left to concentrate on, Liverpool, despite still being in contention to win an unprecedented quadruple of Premier League title, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, have a clean bill of health Tuesday’s clash.
It raises a host of questions around the fitness and conditioning of United’s squad, the mindset of players and the club’s injury prevention techniques and Rangnick believes a detailed analysis must be undertaken to establish the reasons.
“It is no excuse or alibi but this is also an issue that worries me a bit – the number of injuries that we currently have,” Rangnick said.
“If we compare that with Liverpool, although they are still competing in four competitions, they have no injury problems at all.
“We play only in the Premier League and we have five or six injured players. This is also an issue that needs to be taken care of for the future – to analyze why is that the case, why does it happen?”
United bemoan rearranged fixtures with concerns over integrity of top-four race
By James Ducker
Manchester United are unhappy with the scheduling of their rearranged Premier League game against Chelsea amid concerns it could undermine the integrity of the top-four race.
United’s match against Chelsea at Old Trafford has been switched from May 15 to Thursday next week owing to the west London club’s involvement in the FA Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley that weekend.
It means United are due to play Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in a critical triple header over the course of the next 10 days but will face a 15-day gap between their penultimate league game at Brighton and the trip to Crystal Palace on the final day of the season on May 22.
United are concerned that this could have implications for the integrity of the top-four race, with Tottenham, Arsenal and West Ham – their main rivals for the fourth and final Champions League spot – all due to be in action on the penultimate weekend of the campaign.
Tottenham and West Ham are due to face Burnley and Manchester City respectively on May 15, with Arsenal in line to play the following night against Newcastle.
It is understood that there are some concerns at United that Ralf Rangnick’s squad could be left at a disadvantage heading into the final game against Palace given the unusually long gap between their final two league matches compared to their rivals.
Yet it is unclear when else the Premier League could have scheduled the match given that Chelsea are due to play Leeds and Leicester either side of the Cup final on May 14.
United faced a similarly difficult situation over the international break last month when there were three weeks between their league games against Tottenham on March 12 and Leicester on April 2 owing to the postponement of their match against Liverpool because of the Merseyside club’s FA Cup commitments.
The Chelsea scheduling could create another, more immediate headache for Rangnick, who may be without midfielder Fred for the match.
The Brazilian, an increasingly important figure for Rangnick given his work rate, is due to miss the Liverpool game and Saturday’s trip to Arsenal with a hip flexor injury and is understood to be facing a frantic race to be fit for Chelsea.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.