Ralf Rangnick said it was "incredible" that Middlesbrough's goal was allowed to stand as they knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup on Friday.

The Championship side triumphed on penalties at Old Trafford after holding United to a 1-1 draw, Matt Crooks cancelling out Jadon Sancho's opener despite the ball striking Duncan Watmore's hand in the build-up.

The Red Devils were punished for missing a hatful of chances as they failed to win a home FA Cup match against a lower-league side for just the fourth time in the past 32 such meetings.

After Cristiano Ronaldo had missed an earlier penalty, a deflected Sancho strike put United in front, but they failed to build on that advantage despite dominating proceedings in the first half especially.

Overall, United had 30 shots, the most of any team in a single FA Cup match since the start of last season, finishing with 4.32 expected goals to Middlesbrough's 1.43.

Yet they found themselves level when Crooks turned in Watmore's lob, the goal allowed to stand after Watmore's clear handball was deemed to be accidental.

United continued to be profligate, Bruno Fernandes somehow hitting the post with the goal at his mercy and Anthony Elanga heading a clear chance straight at goalkeeper Joe Lumley.

It was teenager Elanga who missed the crucial kick in the shoot-out, firing his effort over the bar after the first 15 penalties had been scored.

United have now lost six of their past seven shoot-outs in all competitions and the Champions League is now their remaining faint hope of silverware for this season given they are 19 points off the Premier League pace set by Manchester City.


"In the end, the goal should never have been given. It's incredible that it stood," Rangnick told MUTV.

"It was a clear handball. I would not have needed VAR, it should have been seen by the referee himself but the VAR should not have given the goal.

"As far as I know, the referee and the VAR said it was not intentional, it was coincidental, how can it be coincidental if the hand is up there and he controlled the ball with his hand?"

Despite his frustration with the equaliser, Rangnick admitted United only had themselves to blame for their cup exit.

"We're really disappointed," he said. "The players, the staff, everybody. This was completely unnecessary. We should have killed off the game in the first half. We could easily have been 3-0 or 4-0 [up].

"We started well and played extremely well in the whole first half. Our movement and tempo of the game were exactly what we intended to do. But it was only 1-0 and a goal like this can always happen, although it shouldn't have happened from our perspective because we didn't defend well, we were too open in that counter-attack situation."

Boro boss Chris Wilder conceded he had expected Crooks' goal to be disallowed at first.

"We rode our luck and took our chances," he told ITV. "The decisions that are made through VAR have changed since I left the Premier League. I thought straight away it was handball. I thought it would be chalked off and [I am] delighted it wasn't.

"The FA Cup is alive and kicking, especially in Middlesbrough. I told the players it was all about making memories."

Manchester United exited the FA Cup on penalties after a contentious 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough in the fourth round at Old Trafford.

Anthony Elanga blazed over to send Boro through 8-7 following United's seventh spot-kick defeat in eight contests, although they would no doubt argue the tie should not have advanced to that stage.

Ralf Rangnick might point to generous officiating from Anthony Taylor that did not punish Duncan Watmore's handball in the build-up to Matt Crooks' second-half equaliser for Boro.

But United's inability to add to a lead secured by Jadon Sancho was equally damaging, their 30 shots worth a combined 4.32 expected goals – an early Cristiano Ronaldo penalty among the misses as the Red Devils crashed out.

By the time Sancho made the most of Boro's latest piece of haphazard defending to break the deadlock with a deflected shot across Joe Lumley, United could have been two or three up.

Sancho clipped a delicate attempt onto the crossbar after Lumley spilled a long ball, then Anfernee Dijksteel clumsily brought down Paul Pogba in the box, only for Ronaldo to drag his spot-kick wide. Bruno Fernandes volleyed wildly over when played onside, too.

Chances continued to come and go after the 25th-minute opener, with Marcus Rashford letting Boro off the hook again early in the second half.

And that profligacy came back to bite United in bizarre circumstances when Watmore blatantly controlled Isaiah Jones' cross with his hand but directed a lob across the face of goal, allowing Crooks to steal in and net a leveller that the VAR did not overturn.

Fernandes pulled a straightforward finish against the foot of the post soon afterwards, failing to prevent an extra time period in which Dean Henderson was required to make a close-range stop from Aaron Connolly to reach the shoot-out.

Each of the first 15 kicks were scored, before Elanga finally failed, stunning the home support.

Reece James is still a few weeks from his return from injury as Thomas Tuchel confirmed the defender will not travel with Chelsea to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup.

James suffered a hamstring injury at the end of December and has been unable to return to team training since.

His absence proved a big blow for the Blues given James' importance in his right wing-back role – between the start of the season and December 29, he had a hand in the joint-most goals (11) across all competitions in their squad, while only Mason Mount (42) laid on more key passes than James (38).

James' injury was especially frustrating for Chelsea given they had already lost Ben Chilwell for the rest of the season after sustained a serious knee injury the previous month.

And James will not be back in the immediate future, Tuchel confirmed on Friday, though he did not seem too disheartened at Chelsea's inability to bring in extra cover for the wing-backs during the January transfer window.

"We tried and had ideas, but in the end we stick to what we have and are happy," Tuchel told reporters ahead of Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round clash with Plymouth Argyle.

"Reece will come back at some point [this season], unfortunately not Ben Chilwell, but Reece will come back and compete for a place in the squad.

"Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] at the moment is in fantastic form and a fantastic place. That is why it's fine. We try to find solutions in our squad.

"[James] is not in team training yet. After a couple of weeks, he will need some time in team training to get the rhythm and confidence back before we think about playing him.


"So he does not travel with us to the Club World Cup. For Reece, I am too long a coach to get overexcited by pure dates that are maybe out there.

"I know you can have setbacks and can take longer sometimes. The injury was a big injury and I felt it straight away. The diagnosis was straight away it was a big injury and from there we have to be patient.

"It's always a bit of a tricky one, and he is a physical player. He caught flu in the last week and lost days in his process of coming back to the team.

"We are patient and we want to have him on the pitch [on Saturday], of course, but it's not happening at the moment and we have to stay patient."

Although Chelsea did not sign anyone in January, Kenedy returned from a loan spell with Flamengo and will fill a void in the squad for the rest of the season.

Tuchel believes the winger could be a useful option as a wing-back and he was enthusiastic about giving the 25-year-old Brazilian a second chance at Chelsea, for whom he has played just 15 Premier League games since joining from Fluminense in 2015.

"It's a clean slate and I think he knows it," Tuchel said. "I followed Kenedy for many years, I followed him when he played for Newcastle.

"He was very promising in the early part of his career. He lost track a little bit and maybe couldn't fulfil the demands from the outside I had, but this is life.

"He gets a second or third chance to be here, and it's not about what happened. He was good in pre-season, he decided he wanted to go back to Brazil and try there. But having Kenedy and Emerson on loan, Kenedy was possible [to bring back] and now he is here.

"He is a very nice guy, very talented, and let's see where he is. It's a huge opportunity, and I am very happy to give it to him and help him make the best of it."

Pep Guardiola admitted it took him a while to work out Joao Cancelo as the Manchester City boss spoke of the "sensitive" full-back who has become a key component of his side.

Cancelo joined from Juventus in 2019, with the Portugal international initially struggling to establish himself in City's side.

Guardiola said there had been "mistakes" on his own part, and a lack of understanding from Cancelo about how City were looking for him to perform.

Both bridges were crossed long ago, and this week saw Cancelo and City agree to extend the player's contract by two years until 2027, with Guardiola saying such deals were "so important" for the team's future.

Cancelo has developed into one of the world's leading full-backs under Guardiola, currently deployed on the left but equally comfortable on the right, yet disagreements between player and coach stymied his start to life at the club.

"Everybody knows how important Joao is with us and what he has done in the last two seasons, especially this season," Guardiola said.

"We have struggled together in the first part when he arrived. We were not agreeing on many things, in part [because] of my mistakes. Now I'm so delighted he's fully happy here and can play in this club for the next years.

"He can play in many positions, and he can play every day. His physicality is impressive and of course the skillset he has, and he's beloved in the locker room because he's so funny.

"The club has to especially work for tomorrow, for the next months and the next years, and the decisions the club has made [regarding contracts] is because the club is working for the future and has to do this."

Where manager Guardiola and Cancelo once struggled to understand each other, now they are singing from the same hymn sheet.

"We know each other much better, and every player must be treated in a different way," said Guardiola, speaking in a news conference ahead of Saturday's FA Cup clash with Fulham.

"I needed more time to know him, how sensitive he is. He's an incredible person, has a big heart, so sensitive.

"Finally, I think now I understand him a little bit more. Especially because he's an important player for us. When he arrived, we have an instructor to understand the way we want to play, and he struggled a little bit to understand what we want to do.

"That was the reason why. There were not arguments. Every player's a world, and you have to understand them as much as possible. Sometimes you need time to understand each other."

Guardiola described Cancelo's enthusiasm as that of "an amateur player", pointing to his desire to play all the time.


"Like Phil Foden, it's the most important thing in his life," Guardiola said.

Cancelo directly contributed to eight goals for City last season (five assists, three goals), but he is stepping up his contribution this term.

He already has eight assists and three goals in 2021-22, also helping City keep 12 clean sheets across the 30 matches he has featured in.

Cancelo has created 87 chances in the Premier League since making his debut, which ranks him eighth in terms of defenders, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (211) leading the way.

Midfield prospect James McAtee, 19, was another City player to sign a new contract this week, and Guardiola thinks the youngster could have a role to play in the closing months of the season.

"Maybe we will need him. In the future we will see," Guardiola said. "It is important he's fully committed to the club. He arrived when he was a little, little boy, and he's a Man City supporter, and he loves to be here.

"We're more than delighted with the confidence he and his family have in the club and [that] he could extend his contract to stay here with us."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is excited for either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah to "achieve something really big" after reaching the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Senegal and Egypt will face each other for the right to be crowned champions of Africa on Sunday at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.

Mane scored the third goal in Senegal's 3-1 semi-final defeat of Burkina Faso to take his personal tally for the tournament to three, while Salah helped Egypt to a 3-1 penalties win over hosts Cameroon after a 0-0 draw on Thursday.

Klopp has previously been accused of disrespecting the AFCON on several occasions. In 2020, he called the tournament's move from June to January a "catastrophe", then, in November last year, he referred to it as a "little tournament" before claiming he meant the comment in an "ironic" manner.

Now, with two of his best players set to grace the final, Klopp is thrilled to see both with the chance to create history for their nations.

Asked if he had arranged something of a viewing party with the squad, Klopp said: "I have nothing planned yet.

"I didn't think about it, but we've followed it pretty closely. It's a great achievement for both. Naby [Keita] played exceptional in the tournament, too.

"So far it's been a really successful tournament for our boys. It's exciting, but not so easy because one will be really happy after, one much less so.

"Both have a good chance to achieve something really big."

Speaking to the media ahead of Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round clash with Cardiff City, attention soon turned to when Salah and Mane will be available for the Reds again.

Klopp thinks there is a chance both could be available for Thursday's Premier League visit of Leicester City, though he accepts whoever loses in Sunday's final has a better chance of that.

"I think they will be available but we will see," Klopp added. "If one wins they'll probably fly back to home country for a celebration, that's how it is.

"I think Tuesday or Wednesday [is the] latest the winner will be back, the other one slightly earlier.

"Then I have to talk to them. One thing is they have rhythm, played quite a few games, but I have to speak to them."

Jurgen Klopp concedes it would be "really strange" if Luis Diaz was able to immediately show his best form for Liverpool but is "really happy and excited" about what he can bring to the Reds.

The Colombia winger joined from Porto after signing a long-term contract at Anfield in a deal reported to be worth an initial £37.5million with a further £12.5m in add-ons.

Diaz was a man in demand with Liverpool reportedly beating off competition from Premier League rivals Tottenham, while Everton had previously been linked with his signature.

At Liverpool, Diaz joins an already stacked attacking line-up that includes Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota.

Klopp accepts there is likely to be a bedding-in period for his new signing but has no doubt he can make a huge contribution at the club.

"Luis, let me say it like this, if he now came and stepped on the pitch and was immediately at his best and playing better than everyone else it would be really strange," Klopp said ahead of Liverpool's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Cardiff City.

"He needs time to adapt, but that doesn't mean I speak about four or five months, I haven't even seen him yet in training so maybe we should wait a little bit.

"But I'm really happy and excited about the signing, it's a really good sign that we work on all fronts to improve this team, that's how it always is in football. Obviously how it works is we have to be successful now and in the future. He can help with both that's a really good thing.

"We signed him because we like pretty much everything about him. I followed him now for a while not only since we played them twice in the Champions League. 

"He has the speed, skillset, and character to have a really good career. We want him to have that career with us. 

"I'm really happy we could get him in now, he can help us, we can help him. His story so far is a special one. Now he's one of us, we can't wait to welcome him here."


Klopp's options are set to be further boosted this weekend, with Naby Keita back from Africa Cup of Nations duty. Thiago Alcantara has also been back in training having been absent since December due to a thigh issue but a chest infection may curtail his chances of a return, while Divock Origi could be in contention after a knee injury.

And in further good news, talented midfielder Harvey Elliott is set to play against Cardiff this weekend after five months out as a result of a horrific fracture-dislocation of his ankle sustained against Leeds United.

"Very impressed with his rehabilitation. Harvey was the perfect client, he did pretty much everything we told him," Klopp added.

"He is in a good place, we have to see if it's right for him to start or come on but he'll definitely be in the squad for the Cardiff game.

"He has now step-by-step to get back to his best but he's close, very close."

Paul Pogba has been urged to "show up" for Manchester United and prove what he is capable of as he nears the end of his Old Trafford contract.

The 28-year-old is set to return to United's squad for Friday's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Middlesbrough after three months out with a thigh injury.

France international Pogba has just four months remaining on his deal with the Red Devils and is now widely expected to seek a new challenge at the end of the campaign.

Regardless of where Pogba intends to play his football beyond this season, Rangnick simply wants the central midfielder to be fully motivated in order to find his best form.

"It's up to him now. His contract is expiring in the summer and if in the end he would like to stay or go somewhere else he has to show up," Rangnick said.

"It's not only in the interest for us as a club but it's in his personal interest that he plays and performs at the highest possible level in the next couple of weeks."


Pogba remains United's record signing, having rejoined from Juventus in 2016 for an initial fee of £89.3million (€105m), but the Red Devils now stand to lose him for nothing.

He has made 212 appearances in his second spell at Old Trafford, during which time he has scored 38 goals and assisted 45 more in all competitions.

While a new deal has not entirely been ruled out for the Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juve target, Rangnick is only focused on the remainder of 2021-22.

"We haven't spoken about it so far, not only about Paul's situation but also with other contracts expiring we also didn't speak about new players so far," Rangnick said.

"My focus now is to play the best possible season we can and to be as successful as we can be.

"For me he is now a new player and he can show me and the team and the fans and everyone in England how good and what high level he can play."


Prior to sustaining his injury, Pogba led the way in the Premier League for assists with seven from nine appearances, averaging exactly one assist per 90 minutes on the pitch.

Despite him missing United's last 15 matches, only Bruno Fernandes (10) has assisted more goals than Pogba (seven) for the Red Devils in all competitions this season.

However, Rangnick insisted the World Cup-winning midfielder is not assured of a starting place in the team.

"For Paul it is in his own interest to play on a high level to have a good performance and do everything to get into the first XI – that will not automatically happen," Rangnick said.

United host Middlesbrough aiming to build on a record of 28 wins from their last 31 home FA Cup matches against sides from a lower division.

Jesse Lingard clarified that his absence from Manchester United training was due to the club advising him to have time off for "personal reasons".

Lingard was strongly linked with a move away from Old Trafford throughout the January transfer window due to a lack of first-team football and the fact his contract will expire in June.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick confirmed he told Lingard he could leave if an agreement could be made with another club, but no such deal was struck.

Rangnick revealed on Thursday that Mason Greenwood's unavailability "until further notice" was a factor in United's decision to keep Lingard at the club.

But the German confirmed Lingard would not be involved against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Friday after "he asked for a couple days off to clear up his mind".

This led to some critics questioning Lingard's commitment and others accusing United of pandering to players, with Rangnick also stating Edinson Cavani had been granted an extra couple of days off following his return from international duty.

But Lingard has hit back, insisting the club told him to take a step back.

He wrote on his official Twitter account: "The club advised me to have time off due to personal reasons!

"But my headspace is clear and I'll always be professional when called upon and give 100 per cent."

Among current United players to make at least one Premier League appearance this term, no one has been on the pitch for fewer minutes than Lingard (88).

Frank Lampard knows he is facing a big challenge at Everton but believes he can turn their fortunes around.

Lampard, who was dismissed by Chelsea just over a year ago, was appointed as Everton's manager on Monday.

The Toffees parted ways with Rafael Benitez in January, after an ill-fated 200-day spell in charge for the former Liverpool boss, who won just one of his last 13 league games.

Indeed, Everton earned just 19 points in 19 Premier League matches under the Spaniard, their lowest tally at the halfway stage of a season since 2005-06.

A 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa, under the temporary stewardship of Duncan Ferguson, saw Everton drop to 16th in the Premier League, four points above the relegation zone.

Lampard is under no illusions as to the scale of the task at hand, and recalled a phrase coined by David Moyes, who dubbed Everton "the people's club" back in 2002.

"In footballing terms, we're in a position that the club doesn't want to be in," Lampard told a news conference ahead of Saturday's FA Cup tie with Brentford.

"I've got a lot of belief in the squad, I've been watching their games closely from the outside, so I'm under no illusions. I feel that we have a squad that can improve quickly. It starts with work on the training ground, with the mindset of the group.

"I understand that in the short term the job is to improve our league position. In the long term, it's clear that it’s a club with huge ambition, history, a huge fan base and a joint desire to improve towards the new stadium.

"There's a lot of work to be done, but I'm very proud to be given this opportunity.

"I've had really positive conversations with the owner, the board and the club in general from the first moment we started to speak.

"Bill Kenwright was fantastic in those conversations as well, and I can see why people hold this club in such regard, because it's the people's club."

After hosting Brentford, Everton face two huge games in quick succession, taking on Newcastle United away and Leeds United at home next week.

Lampard is thrilled at the support he has received so far from Everton's fanbase, but knows results have to pick up.

"I don't expect universal support, but I hope that people will see how I have a work ethic and how I'm going to embrace this job in terms of everything I do," he said.

"I think if they see a reaction on the pitch, which is my job, then I hope that support will continue. We'll be defined this season by the work we put in on the training ground and how we can be united between players, club and fans.

"There's 18 games to play. Nobody is happy with the run we've been on, but I have to bring an element of calm to the players and club and look at ourselves and say there's huge amounts of talent. If I didn't believe in that, I wouldn't be here."


Lampard, whose win percentage with Chelsea in the Premier League was 52.4 per cent, better than any Everton manager has achieved in the competition, was also asked what lessons he has learned from his spell in charge at Stamford Bridge being cut short.

"At Chelsea in reflection I had a really enjoyable 17 months," he said.

"You look at the small details, could you have done this and that better, so hopefully I can bring those experiences of my career so far. I want to get better, and make the players better and this club better, and that’s all I have to look for. Rather than looking back, look forward at what I can do here."

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick explained Jesse Lingard was not allowed to leave in January partly due to Mason Greenwood's unavailability.

Greenwood was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of rape and assault following allegations made on social media.

He was then further arrested two days later on suspicion of sexual assault and threats to kill. Greenwood, who has not publicly commented on the allegations, was released on bail "pending further investigation" on Wednesday.

United confirmed on Sunday that the 20-year-old will not train or play for the club "until further notice", with their statement stating they do "not condone violence of any kind".

Lingard had been hoping to leave Old Trafford in search of regular first-team football, having only made two starts and 12 substitute appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils this season.

Newcastle United and West Ham – where he enjoyed a successful loan spell last season – were both reportedly interested, however United refused to sanction a move, with Rangnick outlining their reasons ahead of Friday's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Middlesbrough.

"Three weeks ago, Jesse didn't want to leave, then he changed his mind," Rangnick told reporters. "I had a chat with him 10 days ago and could fully understand why he wanted to leave for game time, for his future and also for the World Cup.

"I said in case he found a club he wanted to play for and also found a solution with our club, I would allow him to leave. But obviously with all the developments in the last [few] days, things changed a little, and we also had no agreement with any other club.

"So at one stage we had to take a final decision with the board, and we decided to keep Jesse until the end of the season."

When pressed further as to whether Greenwood's arrest had been a factor, Rangnick added: "In a way, yes, but in the end the board told me they couldn't find an agreement with those clubs interested in him, so with the window closing on Monday evening, in the afternoon the board said they would rather he stayed. 

"For me it was a decision I could fully understand and accept. It was two things, we had the problem with Mason Greenwood, being without a player for the time being who has played regularly, and then on the other hand the club couldn't find an agreement with any other club."

The German coach also confirmed Lingard had requested a couple of days to "clear up his mind", with the 29-year-old set to miss the Middlesbrough match.

Despite the situation surrounding Greenwood, Rangnick felt United were able to have a "normal" week of training.

"We had a good and normal week of training, five sessions including today," he said. "Obviously I suppose [Greenwood] was a topic within the team, but they are all human beings and Mason was part of the group before our break.

"It was a good week of training, we could train in normal circumstances and we are looking forward to the game."

Paul Pogba will be at the disposal of Ralf Rangnick for the first time on Friday as the Manchester United midfielder makes his return from injury.

Pogba has not played since early November due to a groin issue sustained on international duty with France – the 28-year-old pulled up during a shooting drill.

While United did not put a specific timeframe on his recovery initially, it was then revealed in early January that they were not expecting him back for at least another month.

Pogba, whose contract expires at the end of this season, spent part of his rehabilitation period in Dubai, a decision Rangnick appeared to openly question.

But despite that apparent disagreement and the lingering doubts around Pogba's future at the club, Rangnick is seemingly ready to throw him straight back into the action when United face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday – several others will be missing, though.

"Yes, Paul will be part of the group, he may even be in the starting XI," Rangnick told reporters on Thursday.

"There are still a couple of players missing out: Edi Cavani will only return at the weekend. He contacted me a week ago and asked me if he could have two more days at home and I allowed him because I knew that he couldn't be in the starting XI [against Boro] anyway with the jet-lag and only coming back today or last night, so he won't be part of the group.

"Victor Lindelof has been ill the whole week and not training so will miss out, the same is true of Jesse Lingard [he has been absent from training]. He asked for a couple days off to clear up his mind, so he will be back in the group next Monday for training and then be a regular part of the squad again.

"Eric Bailly came back yesterday, he has some problems, a swollen ankle, and will therefore not be a part of the squad [on Friday] but all the other players will be available."

United's squad looks rather slimmer than before the international break. With Mason Greenwood absent "until further notice" and the club allowing Donny van de Beek, Anthony Martial and Amad Diallo to depart on loan, Rangnick's options have depleted.

Added to that, United did not make any first-team signings during the January transfer window, though Rangnick felt before that the squad was too large.

"As I said earlier [in January], I thought so far the group was slightly too big, too many players, too many without seeing the chance for regular game time, this is why I'm happy not only for the club but also the players," he continued.

"Players like Donny, Anthony and Amad, they deserved to get regular game time. I wish them all the very best, I was in contact with all three players.

"Amad has already played and scored, and I'm pretty sure Anthony and Donny will do well at Everton and Sevilla and come back in the summer in good form."

Rangnick was also asked about the possibility of Mauricio Pochettino taking over as coach at the end of the season, though the German – who is set to move into a consultancy role from next season – could not offer any great insight.

He said: "I have no idea, my full focus is on developing and training the group right now. We have important games coming up in three different competitions.

"I can't give any reasonable answer to that, my focus is on the upcoming games and months."

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident Ralf Rangnick will do a "good job" as interim manager, but the Portugal forward will not accept Manchester United aiming for anything less than third place.

Rangnick's appointment – until the end of the season before taking on a consultancy role – was initially praised as evidence United were attempting to modernise as a club, implementing a brand of football and identity that has been so successful elsewhere.

The German had been deemed the so-called "godfather of gegenpressing" and was seen by many as a shrewd hire given his reputation of developing clubs in the past both as a coach and a director.

But, even though United have only lost one of his seven matches in charge across all competitions, their performances have left a lot to be desired, and the idea of a collective and concerted pressing effort appears to remain foreign.

Prior to Rangnick's first game, United averaged 7.6 high turnovers per game in the Premier League – in his first two matches they recorded 12 and 11, respectively.

A trend emerged there, as the only occasion this season United had previously recorded more than 12 (13) was in Michael Carrick's first match against Chelsea. It would seem to be the classic 'new manager bounce' as they soon fell back into their old ways.

United's high turnover average under Rangnick in the league remains virtually identical (7.6) to what it was before, while they managed just three in Monday's fortunate 1-0 FA Cup win over Aston Villa, suggesting his ideas in that regard simply are not getting across.

But Ronaldo is calling for patience, telling Sky Sports: "Since he arrived five weeks ago, he changed many things. But he needs time to put his ideas across to the players.

"It takes time, but I believe that he is going to do a good job. We know we aren't playing the best football, but we have many games to improve.

"Since he arrived I think in some points we are better, but he needs time. It's not that easy to change the mentality of players and the way they play, the culture, the system like that. I believe that he is going to do a good job.

"We have to be together. We're in the same boat. We have to believe that it is possible but like I said we have a long way to go."

United face Villa again on Saturday in the Premier League – a victory could potentially see them end the weekend three points behind fourth-placed West Ham, who have played two extra games.

Missing out on the top four would be a major blow to United given the amount of money spent in pre-season, though Ronaldo feels even fourth would be unacceptable.

Asked if they can reach the top four even without the correct attitude, Ronaldo said: "Impossible – I think it's the main point.

"I don't accept that our mentality be less than being in the top three in the Premier League.

"I think to build up good things, sometimes you have to destroy a few things. So why not – new year, new life and I hope that we can be the level that the fans want. They deserve that.

"We are capable of changing things now. I know the way but I'm not going to mention it here because I don't think it's ethical on my part to say that.

"What I can say is we can do better – all of us. Manchester United belongs to important things, so we have to change that.

"I don't want to be here to be in sixth place, or seventh place, or fifth place. I'm here to try to win, to compete.

"I think we compete but we are not yet in our best level. But we have a long way to improve and I believe if we change our mind, we can achieve big things."

Ralf Rangnick believes Scott McTominay could be Manchester United captain in "a couple of years" and hailed the "outstanding" David de Gea following a 1-0 FA Cup win over Aston Villa.

McTominay scored the only goal of the third-round contest at Old Trafford on Monday, heading home midfield partner Fred's inviting whipped cross after only seven minutes.

That was enough for the Red Devils to set up a fourth-round tie at home to Championship side Middlesbrough, but Villa were unfortunate to crash out as they were the better side.

Danny Ings had a goal ruled out for a foul by Jacob Ramsey on Edinson Cavani following a lengthy VAR check, referee Michael Oliver eventually making the decision after being told to check the pitchside monitor.

Ollie Watkins struck the crossbar in the first half and also had a goal disallowed due to Ings being offside soon after his fellow striker's goal was chalked off.

Amid talk of unrest in the United dressing room following a 1-0 defeat to Wolves, there was relief for Rangnick after a fortunate victory.

The interim Red Devils boss picked out McTominay and De Gea for praise after an unconvincing display from his side.

Asked about McTominay's contribution, he told BBC Sport: "He is an academy boy, his energy is amazing. He now also starts scoring goals and also with some leadership skills.

"I wouldn't be surprised if in a couple of years he would be the captain of this team."

He added: "We have to develop the team into a clean sheet team and that was another one today but still David de Gea was outstanding again for me today.

"I would have wanted him to have less saves in total, I think we had four or five shots on goal but again we can still improve even in that area."

Despite United being second best for the majority of the game, Rangnick said there were signs they are improving.

Asked if he had seen progress in the performance, he replied: "Yes. To say that this was a perfect game, nobody would believe that of course it was not.

"We still have quite a few things we can get better at, but the clean sheet was important today and we worked together. There are still a lot of things to improve but it is easier to do that with a 1-0 win."

Scott McTominay's early header gave Manchester United a fortunate 1-0 win over Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Cup.

McTominay scored his second goal of the season after only seven minutes at Old Trafford on Monday and that was enough to set up a fourth-round tie at home to Middlesbrough.

Villa were the better side, but it was a frustrating night for boss Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool legend's first trip to United as a manager, with Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings having second-half goals disallowed.

Gerrard's side had plenty of chances to at least force extra time in a breathless encounter, but United responded with a victory amid talk of unrest in the camp following a defeat against Wolves.

McTominay got the Red Devils off to a great start, nodding Fred's superb whipped cross from the right beyond Emiliano Martínez

Villa took that early blow on the chin and David de Gea made a fine save to keep out John McGinn's rasping drive, before Watkins rattled the crossbar after producing a lovely piece of skill to beat Victor Lindelof following a poor mistake from the Sweden defender.

Jacob Ramsey's shot deflected narrowly wide as Villa continued to apply the pressure, but they needed a Matty Cash block to keep out Bruno Fernandes' goal-bound strike and a sharp Martinez save from Luke Shaw's long-drive thunderbolt to avoid going two goals behind in an entertaining first half.

Ings thought he had equalised from inside the six-yard box five minutes into the second half, but referee Michael Oliver ruled the goal out for a foul by Ramsey on Edinson Cavani.

There was more frustration for Villa soon after when Watkins applied the finish but Ings had strayed just offside before he raced clear and failed to beat De Gea.

The busy De Gea then palmed Cash's well-struck effort around the post before getting a fingertip on Watkins' strike and although United fans voiced their fury when Marcus Rashford failed to react as the ball went loose following Martinez's save from Mason Greenwood, they were able to celebrate reaching round four.

Shrewsbury Town say they are "disgusted and appalled" by footage that appears to show fans chanting about the Hillsborough disaster during their FA Cup match with Liverpool.

Video footage appeared on social media purportedly showing supporters singing about the 1989 tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans.

The League One club, who lost 4-1 at Anfield on Sunday, are speaking with the police to identify the alleged perpetrators.

"Shrewsbury Town Football Club is disgusted and appalled to see and hear the reports on social media about the vile and offensive chanting and behaviour of a very small minority of our 'supporters' yesterday," the club said in a statement.

"These people do not represent our club in any way shape or form and we are liaising with West Mercia Police to try and identify those responsible who will in turn liaise with Merseyside Police.

"If any supporters have any information that might assist us in identifying those responsible, they can contact the club confidentially and we will use the information as part of our investigations with the police authorities."

Shrewsbury goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne tweeted after seeing the video on Sunday, saying: "Should be ashamed of yourselves.

"Liverpool showed nothing but respect today. Shocking absolutely shocking! Out them and ban them for life!"

Responding to a follower who condemned the "one per cent" for creating "bad press", Burgoyne said: "It doesn't matter what percentage it is.

"[One per cent] still represents our football club and they need to be held accountable."

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