The board of Manchester United has told Ralf Rangnick that he must continue to play the club’s best team in order for them to qualify for European competition next season.
United are currently seventh in the Premier League, six points behind Tottenham Hotspur, who hold the coveted last Champions League spot, with only seven games remaining, following their humiliating 1-0 defeat to Everton last Saturday.
With Arsenal and West Ham United ahead of them, the club’s chances of qualifying for Europe’s top competition are dwindling, and they appear destined to compete in the Europa League or Europa Conference League instead.
However, they may not happen either, with Wolverhampton Wanderers only two points behind the Red Devils in the league, and a seventh-place finish in the FA Cup may not be enough if Crystal Palace win the competition.
If West Ham or Leicester City win the Europa League or the inaugural Europa Conference League, things will become even more complicated.
With all of these considerations in mind, ESPN reports that United’s executives are growing concerned about what missing out on European football would mean for the club, both financially and in terms of how it would affect transfers and the appointment of their new manager, with Ajax’s Erik ten Hag now widely regarded as the frontrunner.
As a result, they’ve told interim manager Rangnick that he needs to do everything he can to help United finish as high as possible, which means playing the best players possible in every game left in the season.
Rangnick reportedly wanted to use these games to give young players opportunities and debut academy prospects, but he has been told that this is no longer possible due to the worrying situation.
United have failed to qualify for the Champions League on a consistent basis since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, and even failed to play any European football in the 2014/15 season, costing the club hundreds of millions of dollars.
Rangnick and United must navigate their remaining difficult fixtures, which include trips to Liverpool and Arsenal, as well as a clash with Chelsea at Old Trafford, in order to avoid that fate.