Ralf Rangnick has been confirmed as the head coach of Austria's national team.

Rangnick will continue in his role as the interim boss of Manchester United, a position he has held since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dismissed in November, until the end of the season.

The 63-year-old will prepare Austria for Nations League fixtures against Croatia, Denmark and France at the start of May.

A statement from the Austrian Football Association (OFB) on Friday confirmed Rangnick's contract will initially last two years but, should they qualify for Euro 2024 in Germany, the deal will be extended through to the 2026 World Cup.

"It's an honor for me to take on the role of team boss," Rangnick said. "I'm particularly excited about the prospect of contesting the European Championships in Germany with a young team hungry for success."

Speculation Rangnick would take over as Austria boss increased on Thursday, leading to confusion as to whether he will continue in a consultancy role at Old Trafford next season.

The initial plan was for Rangnick to stay in the dugout until the end of the campaign, then move upstairs to a behind-the-scenes role.

Speaking after United's 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Thursday, Rangnick confirmed nothing has changed in that regard and he will be available to incoming boss Erik ten Hag.

"Let us speak tonight about Manchester United and our game, the rest of the season here – this is the issue," Rangnick told Sky Sports.

"I can also confirm I will also definitely continue at the end of the season with my consultancy role.

"I didn't say I would be a big part going forward, but we have definitely agreed now both on the content and the time of my consultancy role.

"So far we haven't spoken, Erik and I, but this will hopefully and probably happen in the future, but as I said, I'm more than happy and willing to help, to change things for the better.

"It would leave space for another job, but that's what we had agreed to start with back in November last year."

United have massively underperformed this term with the dismissal of Solskjaer and arrival of Rangnick failing to produce the upturn in fortunes expected.

Rumours of squad dissatisfaction have rumbled on in the background of a campaign that has seen United fall off the pace in the race for a top-four finish.

Indeed, victories in their final three matches will only see them equal their lowest-ever Premier League points return.

However, Rangnick has a high standing in the game and has a wealth of experience.

He helped Hoffenheim from the third tier to the Bundesliga in two seasons and led Schalke to DFB-Pokal glory in 2011.

Rangnick spent seven seasons at RB Leipzig from 2012 to 2019, mainly as sporting director but also two spells as coach in the 2015-16 and 2018-19 seasons as well.

Austria have been searching for a new coach since Franco Foda resigned from his position after a 2-1 defeat to Wales last month saw them fail to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Foda had been in charge since 2017 and helped Austria qualify for Euro 2020.

"We are very pleased that we were able to [appoint] Ralf Rangnick, an outstanding expert in international football, as team boss," said OFB president President Gerhard Milletich.

"We are all convinced that he is the ideal man and that his vision will advance the national team and the OFB."

Ralf Rangnick has been confirmed as the head coach of Austria's national team.

Rangnick will continue in his role as the interim boss of Manchester United, a position he has held since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dismissed in November, until the end of the season.

The 63-year-old will prepare Austria for Nations League fixtures against Croatia, Denmark and France at the start of May.

A statement from the Austrian Football Association (OFB) confirmed Rangnick's contract will initially last two years but, should they qualify for Euro 2024 in Germany, the deal will be extended through to the 2026 World Cup.

Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood will remain on bail until mid-June following his arrest on suspicion of rape, assault and threats to kill.

The 20-year-old was arrested by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on January 30 after allegations were made on social media.

Greenwood was released on conditional bail, which was due to expire on Saturday.

However, GMP confirmed on Friday that an application has been made for the extension of Greenwood's bail.

"We are continuing to investigate a report made to us on Sunday 30 January of online social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence," a GMP statement read.

"A 20-year-old man arrested that day on suspicion of the rape and assault of a woman, and threats to kill, remains on bail.

"An application has been made to the courts to have his bail extended beyond Saturday 30 April, but the hearing isn't expected to be until mid-June.

"The suspect will remain on conditional bail until the date of the court hearing.

"Any update on the outcome of that hearing – or news before then – will be issued proactively by GMP press office."

Greenwood was suspended from playing or training with United within hours of the allegations emerging.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a "phenomenon" who will have a big part to play at Manchester United under incoming head coach Erik ten Hag, according to Gary Neville.

Portugal international Ronaldo struck his 17th Premier League goal of the campaign – and 23rd in all competitions – in United's 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Thursday.

Despite now being 37 years of age, Ronaldo is level with Son Heung-min and behind only Mohamed Salah (22) in the Premier League scoring charts this term.

Indeed, only nine other players from Europe's top five leagues have scored more goals in all competitions in 2021-22 than Ronaldo.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's place in the side has been questioned at times this season, but Neville insists he is too good a player to overlook – no matter who is in charge.

"He lifts the fans, he gets them on the edge of their seats, takes his chances, and it'll be really interesting to see what happens with Erik Ten Hag," Neville told Sky Sports.

"We know he plays with an aggressive press, he tries to win the ball high up the pitch, that isn't Cristiano's strong point and we know that. But he will want a goalscorer. 

"He will want someone who can put the ball in the back of the net 20 or 25 times. Can United use him as a bridge next season to get them through Erik Ten Hag's first season? 

"Ronaldo is a phenomenon. He's achieved everything and more in the game, his professionalism is beyond anything you could ever wish for, really.

"He still continues – his persistence, his determination to score goals is absolutely incredible. You can't speak highly enough of him. 

"His goal [against Chelsea] was wonderful and he doesn't really lose that belief in himself when the rest of the team is really lacking in confidence – his is still there."

Ronaldo has scored eight of his side's last nine goals, with his strikes across the season worth 14 Premier League points to United, who are languishing down in fifth.

Ralf Rangnick will be replaced by Ajax boss Ten Hag ahead of next season and ex-United midfielder Roy Keane also expects Ronaldo to play a part under the Dutchman.

"I know people are quick to criticise what [Ronaldo] doesn't do, in terms of his pressing, but he was never great at that anyway," Keane said.

"He's the greatest at the hardest part of the game – putting the ball in the back of the net.

"Ten Hag will be having a sleepless night watching the team, but if you've got a player in the group who can score that amount of goals, they have to be involved. 

"He'll want to play week-in, week-out, the new manager will come in and will be looking for another striker but Ronaldo's not hanging around unless he's playing."

Toni Kroos future at the Santiago Bernabeu has suddenly become precarious, with the relationship between the player and Real Madrid disintegrating.

The 32-year-old's dramatic drop in form has called into question whether he will see out his contract, which expires at the end of next season in 2023.

With that in mind, there are reports Real Madrid will look to both replace him and bolster their midfield in the same transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYE POGBA AND TCHOUAMENI FOR KROOS

Real Madrid are seeking to replace Toni Kroos and strengthen their midfield, with the intent to sign both Paul Pogba and Aurelien Tchouameni, El Nacional is reporting.

The highly rated Tchouameni has long been a transfer target for Madrid, while the expiration of Pogba's contract at the end of this season makes them both attainable.

Kroos' position in Real Madrid's starting midfield has become vulnerable with the form of Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde, while this transpires amid the backdrop of Luka Modric's contract extension. 

It was reported that Kroos sought to extend for another season and retire in 2024, but that possibility now seems unlikely.

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich are eyeing Luka Jovic as a potential replacement in the event of Robert Lewandowski's departure for Barcelona, Sport is reporting.

- Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants to sign outgoing Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala, according to the Corriere dello Sport.

- The Red Devils have also indicated to Napoli they are willing to pay £84million (€99.8m) for striker Victor Osimhen, La Repubblica reports.

- Arsenal have expressed interest in signing Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, per Football Insider.

Cristiano Ronaldo's performance against Chelsea on Thursday proved he can still be a "great help" to Manchester United next season under Erik ten Hag, according to interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

United were generally tame once again in the 1-1 draw, but Ronaldo did at least ensure the Red Devils avoided suffering three successive Premier League defeats for the first time since 2015.

Just 119 seconds after Marcos Alonso had put Chelsea in front at Old Trafford, Ronaldo latched on to Nemanja Matic's scooped pass over the defence and drilled home.

Ronaldo has now scored eight of United's nine most recent goals in the Premier League, with Fred the only other player to net for the club this month.

Thursday's goal took Ronaldo to 17 for the season in the league, a haul bettered by only Mohamed Salah, but Rangnick was keen to highlight the striker's all-round performance as he saluted his defensive work rate.

Ronaldo's future beyond the end of the season does look uncertain with United set for a massive clear-out and rebuild, but Rangnick can see a role for the 37-year-old if he is able to replicate such performances.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Rangnick said: "Not only the goal he scored today, also his whole performance, attitude and how often he helped out in our own half.

"At 37, a player like him – this is not normal to do that. He showed that today. If he plays like he played today, he can still be a great help for this team.

"In the end it's both Erik's and Cris' decision what they want to do, it's not for me to speak about that.

"But as I said, today the performance of Cris was really great."

Ralf Rangnick has confirmed he will be staying on in a consultancy role at Manchester United into next season, though the position would allow him to take on a job elsewhere.

Rangnick joined United as interim manager in November following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the initial terms of the deal seeing him in charge until the end of the season before taking on a backroom role.

The exact criteria and expectations of that consultancy position were not confirmed at the time and, even until recent weeks there was a degree of uncertainty around whether the role would exist at all after the appointment of Erik ten Hag.

Rangnick's pre-match comments ahead of Thursday's 1-1 draw with Chelsea belied a certain confidence on the German's part that he would still be working with the club in some capacity next season.

Reports then began to circulate that Rangnick is set to become Austria's next head coach, but such a job would seemingly not prevent him from also assisting United.

"Let us speak tonight about Manchester United and our game, the rest of the season here – this is the issue," Rangnick told Sky Sports when asked about the Austria reports.

"I can also confirm I will also definitely continue at the end of the season with my consultancy role.

"I didn't say I would be a big part going forward, but we have definitely agreed now both on the content and the time of my consultancy role.

"So far we haven't spoken, Erik and I, but this will hopefully and probably happen in the future, but as I said, I'm more than happy and willing to help, to change things for the better.

"It would leave space for another job, but that's what we had agreed to start with back in November last year."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored an excellent equaliser to spare Manchester United a third successive Premier League defeat as they drew 1-1 at home to Chelsea on Thursday.

Ralf Rangnick's side lost their previous two games to Liverpool and Arsenal by an aggregate score of 7-1 and, while the performance on their return to Old Trafford was by no means impressive, they at least avoided another loss.

Despite a dismal first-half showing in which their midfield was routinely cut open, United somehow made it until the break without conceding, though Chelsea's deserved breakthrough did arrive via Marcos Alonso with an hour played.

But Ronaldo – who has been responsible for five of their six Premier League goals this month – swiftly restored parity against the run of play and Thomas Tuchel's men failed to regain the lead.

Chelsea dominated the first half almost from start to finish, with a brief moment of United pressure culminating in Ronaldo putting a close-range bicycle-kick over.

Otherwise, United had to rely on wasteful Chelsea finishing and David de Gea to keep the scoreline level, with the Spaniard crucially blocking Kai Havertz's goal-bound effort with his midriff after the Blues carved through the hosts with ease.

Havertz went close again nine minutes before half-time, heading Reece James' cross right at De Gea.

Little changed after the restart – except Chelsea finally made their pressure count after 60 minutes, as Alonso smashed a volley into De Gea's bottom-left corner.

But few would have anticipated what happened just two minutes later, with Ronaldo latching on to Nemanja Matic's scooped pass and hammering home an equaliser.

Chelsea might have clinched a deserved late winner, but James' curling effort clipped the outside of the post.

Jurgen Klopp is staying on at Liverpool for an extra two years after signing a new contract that keeps him at Anfield until June 2026.

Rumours had started to circulate suggesting the German and his coaching staff agreed fresh terms, and the club made it official on Thursday.

The announcement came as Liverpool chase an unprecedented quadruple. Having already won the EFL Cup this season, they are into the FA Cup final, sit just one point behind leaders Manchester City in the Premier League and hold a 2-0 lead over Villarreal ahead of the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.

Injury-ravaged Liverpool finished 2020-21 third in the Premier League, 17 points behind Pep Guardiola's City, but Klopp has proven that to be a minor blip with the Reds back in devastating form this term.

Following confirmation of his new contract, Stats Perform looks back at some of the best and most notable victories from Klopp's five and a half years at the helm…

Liverpool 4-3 Borussia Dortmund, April 2016

Klopp surely felt he had a point to prove when going up against his former club in the Europa League quarter-finals, though it all looked to be going horribly wrong. After drawing 1-1 in the first leg, the Reds then trailed by two goals twice at Anfield and found themselves needing at least three goals in the final 25 minutes – somehow, they managed it. Philippe Coutinho, Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren all struck, with Liverpool incredibly netting with all four of their shots on target in the game.

Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City, January 2018

Although Liverpool still trailed leaders City by 15 points in the Premier League after this victory, in hindsight, there is a degree of this win being a watershed moment for Klopp's Liverpool. City were unbeaten in the league at this point, yet for much of the game Liverpool looked every inch their equal. While two late goals from City ensured a tense finish, the Reds were well worth the three points in what went down as a modern classic.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona, May 2019

The Reds seemed to have little hope here. Lionel Messi inspired a 3-0 dismantling of Liverpool in Camp Nou in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash, seemingly putting one foot in the final. But Klopp's side were in sensational form for the return at Anfield, with Divock Origi providing some early hope with a seventh-minute opener. Georginio Wijnaldum then laid on a second-half brace to restore parity, before Origi completed the turnaround 11 minutes from time. It was the first time since 1986 that a team wiped out a three-goal first-leg deficit to win a Champions League/European Cup semi-final.

Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool, June 2019

It may not have been a classic as a spectacle, but Liverpool fans – and Klopp – won't have cared. After falling at the final hurdle the year before, the Reds were European champions for a sixth time in 2019 as they beat Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid, with Mohamed Salah and Origi getting the goals.

Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United, January 2020

The 2019-20 title triumph was Liverpool's first league championship in 30 years – in that time, their bitter rivals United had won it 13 times to become the most successful club in the English top flight. While Klopp's side were already well clear at the Premier League summit when the ailing United came to Anfield in January 2020, there was a sense that their procession began with this 2-0 victory that left them 16 points clear at the top with a game in hand.

Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool, October 2021

Liverpool heaped the misery on United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer again in October. Paul Pogba's sending off certainly helped the visitors, but even before then the gulf was clear. This was the Red Devils' biggest losing margin to their fierce rivals since 1895 (Liverpool won 7-1 at Anfield), and worst ever at home. Mohamed Salah led the way with a hat-trick, in the process becoming the highest-scoring African player in Premier League history. The Reds went on to hammer United again six months later, winning 4-0 on Merseyside.

Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke believes incoming Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag needs to be given full control at the club if there are to return to the top of the English Premier League.

Ralf Rangnick said it is "completely false" to say he has been preparing a 'dossier' on Manchester United stars for incoming boss Erik ten Hag.

Reports had claimed Rangnick was working on such a file to hand over to Ten Hag, who will leave Ajax for the United top job at the end of the season.

Interim manager Rangnick was appointed in November and will have spent six months with United's players by the team he steps aside.

Ahead of United's Premier League game against Chelsea on Thursday, Rangnick flatly denied the existence of a dossier.

He told Sky Sports: "This is completely false, completely untrue. The board has never asked me to prepare a dossier, neither for the board nor for Erik.

"I also never said anything to nobody criticising the attitude of the players as being unprofessional or selfish. This is not true, I will always protect my players. I have never realised any issues of them being unprofessional or selfish."

Rangnick succeeded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United have continued to struggle to challenge for the Champions League places during the German's Old Trafford tenure, suggesting Ten Hag faces a difficult task when he steps into the role.

While there may not be a folder packed with information to pass on to the new boss, Rangnick will eagerly share the knowledge he has acquired when he talks to Ten Hag.

"I'm definitely looking forward to that. I definitely think it would make sense," Rangnick said.

"Erik is the manager next season and if he would like to get my opinion or hear something about how I assess the current situation, I'm more than happy to speak with him."

It remains to be seen what involvement Rangnick has at United once his temporary spell in charge ends.

United said, at the time of his appointment, that Rangnick would take on a consultancy role for two years, and that appears to be a role he is still planning to undertake.

"I've been talking to the board quite regularly and obviously we were also exchanging our impressions of the current situation," Rangnick said.

"For me it's important, together with Erik, together with the scouting department, we can build a new squad, a new group of players with quality and mentality that Erik, together with his coaching staff, will develop and lead this club into a range where supporters will want to see Manchester United."

United sit sixth in the Premier League and are guaranteed to stay in that position for now, whatever the result of the home clash with third-placed Chelsea.

They have won just nine of 20 Premier League games under Rangnick and have lost their last four away matches in the competition.

From the weekend of his first game in charge, his United side have gathered 33 points, with five teams (Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Newcastle United and Tottenham) having accrued more points over the same period.

Chelsea have one fewer point than United in the same period but have played just 18 games in this time.

For a number of years, a clash between Manchester United and Chelsea with less than a month of the Premier League campaign remaining would often be a defining one.

United's days of competing for – and regularly winning – the title are over for now, though, with the Red Devils languishing down in sixth place.

Indeed, following Saturday's 3-1 loss to Arsenal – their third defeat in four games – the Red Devils are also now effectively out of the race for a top-four finish.

While there is little to play for on the face of it, the remaining four matches at least provides Ralf Rangnick a chance to experiment before being replaced by Erik ten Hag.

Rangnick has admitted United need a huge squad overhaul if they are to compete for major honours again, but the club must also look to get more out of their academy products.

With that in mind, Stats Perform looks at some of the youngsters who may get a chance to shine when United welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford on Thursday.


Experience favoured over youth

Whether it be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or temporary successor Rangnick in charge, United have tended to avoid picking younger players this season.

The average age of United's starting XI in the Premier League in 2021-22 is 27 years and 200 days – only seven sides, Chelsea among them, have named older line-ups.

Once famed for giving youngsters an opportunity, United have used just four players aged 21 or under in the league this campaign, and one of those was a £73million signing in the form of Jadon Sancho (who turned 22 in March).


Hannibal hungry to impress

Hannibal is highly regarded at Old Trafford but has just six minutes of playing time to his name this season, coming late on in the recent 4-0 defeat to Liverpool.

That was the first indicator Rangnick had thrown in the towel and was ready to look to the future, and Hannibal certainly left his mark – albeit on a couple of Liverpool players.

The tenacious midfielder committed as many fouls as any United player at Anfield, despite being introduced late on, and was one of two players to be cautioned.

With fellow midfielders Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard all soon to make way, and Fred not fully fit, Hannibal may well get another opportunity against Chelsea.

Already capped 12 times by Tunisia at senior international level, now is the time for United to unleash the teenager's full potential while they have an opportunity to do so.


Shoretire set to star

Hannibal was one of four academy players that took part in training ahead of the Chelsea match, along with Alvaro Fernandez, Shola Shoretire and Will Fish.

Winger Shoretire is the most well-known of those youngsters, having made four appearances for United in all competitions.

He became the youngest player to represent United in European competition last year when featuring against Real Sociedad in the Europa League at 17 years and 23 days.

Appearances have been pretty fleeting since, though he also had a 22-minute run-out against the (appropriately named for this focus) Young Boys in the Champions League four months ago.

While others may have garnered more attention of late, Shoretire has continued to showcase his talents consistently for the Under-23s side and deserves a promotion.


Fish ready to scale new heights

The fact that Fernandez and Fish also took part in training with the senior players this week suggests that they will be part of the squad to face Chelsea at the very least.

Left-back Fernandez has been made to bide his time for a senior debut, whereas centre-back Fish made a cameo appearance in the Premier League under Solskjaer last year.

He was subsequently loaned to Stockport County ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, only to be recalled in January, though his time since has been spent with the reserves.

Tipped as a future star at the back for United since making his Under-23s debut at the age of just 16, Fish now needs the platform to showcase his talents at the highest level.


Garanacho grabbing attention

Unsurprisingly given their status as one of the biggest clubs in the world, United have a whole raft of talented teens that have been heralded as the next big thing.

Look no further than Alejandro Garnacho, who has been an unused substitute for the senior side's last three matches.

The winger is still aged just 17 and therefore has time on his side, but the early indications are that he could be a first-team regular in the next couple of seasons.

Charlie Savage, the son of one-time United academy product Robbie, is also on the cusp of being a first-team squad regular and has featured once already this season.

Zidane Iqbal was also given his first-team breakthrough under Rangnick in December, but has frustratingly – albeit understandably – had to bide his time for more senior minutes.

With nothing left to salvage in what has been another dire season, Rangnick could do a lot worse than turn to the next generation of talent to give supporters hope for the future.

Ousmane Dembele's signing for Barcelona had become emblematic of Josep Maria Bartomeu's turbulent presidency.

An untenably ballooning wage bill saw the club face bankruptcy in the aftermath of Covid-19 restrictions and in a need to cut wages, the French attacker has become an expendable asset.

However, Dembele is reportedly determined to make keeping him at Barcelona more feasible, despite being set to leave at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – DEMBELE OPEN TO BARCELONA WAGE CUT

With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Ousmane Dembele is prepared to reduce his salary in order to sign a new contract at Barcelona, Sport reports.

Dembele's agent Moussa Sissoko and the Barcelona board reportedly met and the assertion was made that the France international was willing to take a pay cut to continue playing under Xavi.

Return on investment has always lingered over the 24-year-old attacker following his €140million transfer from Borussia Dortmund in 2017. 

Dembele has provided one goal in all competitions this season for the Blaugrana, but leads the team in assists with 11 from 28 appearances.

 

ROUND-UP

- Roma are looking to the Premier League to bolster their squad for next season, with Granit Xhaka, Douglas Luiz and Nemanja Matic all being considered, Calciomercato reports.

- Barcelona are also keen to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski but no opening bid has been made yet, per Fabrizio Romano.

- The Athletic is reporting Manchester United are considering a £50m move for Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

- Wayne Rooney has become to top candidate to replace the dismissed  Sean Dyche at Burnley on a permanent basis, according to the Sun.

Ralf Rangnick has acknowledged that no European football may make incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag's first season easier, but vowed to continue fighting in the last four games.

United host Chelsea on Thursday in the Premier League with their Champions League hopes all but over, sitting six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, who have played a game fewer than the Red Devils.

Rangnick's side are sixth and just two points ahead of West Ham, with a finish lower than seventh ensuring no European football next campaign, even in the Europa League or Europa Conference League.

That is barring any alterations to qualification permutations, should Liverpool, Manchester City, West Ham or Leicester City be successful in any of their respective European competitions.

While failure to qualify for continental club football may allow Ten Hag greater time to implement his style with a less gruelling schedule, Rangnick insists United want to win their four remaining league games.

"It could be an advantage, but that does not mean we will give away any of the remaining four games," Rangnick told a news conference on Wednesday.

"For us, it's clear and our obligation. This is our job, my job, the job of the players that we try to get the best possible results and then see at the end of the season in which position we will finish.

"Now to speak about if that would be an advantage or not does not make sense because if I did that then this would be interpreted again.

"For me, it's important we get results, that we play as good as we possibly can, because this will also affect the atmosphere and mood for the new season."

A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick inspired an otherwise underwhelming United past Norwich City in their last game at Old Trafford, but the home players were greeted with discontent within the stadium.

Sections of the United faithful could be heard questioning the commitment of the players, while Paul Pogba infuriated Red Devils supporters by cupping his ears to the Stretford End following boos.

Disappointing defeats at Liverpool and Arsenal followed a 3-2 victory over Norwich, but Rangnick believes the United fans will still get behind their team against Thomas Tuchel's visitors.

"I think in both away games the fans have still been supporting the team and also against Norwich," said Rangnick.

"There was that one issue with Paul Pogba, but apart from that I think the supporters were great also in the game against Norwich.

"I hope and also expect our supporters to be behind the team and supporting the team [against Chelsea]."

Ralf Rangnick has suggested incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag puts the Red Devils captaincy to a players' vote, placing doubt over Harry Maguire's role as skipper.

Maguire was named captain following the departure of Ashley Young to Inter in January 2020, just five months after the centre-back's £80 million transfer from Leicester City – the world record fee for a defender.

England international Maguire has come under scrutiny for both his performances and captaincy, with United struggling in the Premier League and out of all cup competitions.

United are sixth in the league and unlikely to qualify for the Champions League, sitting six points behind fourth-placed Arsenal – who defeated Rangnick's side 3-1 on Saturday and have played a game fewer.

The future of Cristiano Ronaldo and seemingly outbound Paul Pogba remains in question, with several more players also out of contract at Old Trafford as Ajax coach Ten Hag prepares for a sizeable rebuilding task.

One of the Dutchman's first tasks will be deciding on the leader in the dressing room, and Rangnick has recommended United players vote on who their next captain should be.

Asked whether Maguire will retain the captain's armband next season, Rangnick told reporters: "Again, I understand your question but again, it doesn't make sense because we don't know what kind of players will be here, what the group will look like.

"I can only tell you what I have done in the past when I was head coach or manager because in Germany it's called 'Mannschaftskapitan' – the captain of the team.

"I strongly believe the captain should be elected by the team because he's called the team manager, and we always did that.

"We always had a board of four or five players – we called it the Spielerrat [players' council] – elected by the players. The player with the highest amount of votes was the team captain at the end. That was how I did it.

"I know a lot of head coaches don't do it that way. That's what I would do if I was still the manager next season but in the end, I'm not. This is something that Erik will have to decide."

Recruitment will also be a key factor for the rejuvenation of United, with Rangnick operating in a consultancy role alongside Ten Hag, who has previously suggested he demands some ruling over transfers.

Rangnick expressed his excitement to work with Ten Hag as the pair look to turn around United's fortunes next season.

"I strongly believe that there are a lot of things that can become better and will become better with a new manager and hopefully with some new players, with some fresh energy in that squad," he added.

"With this group of new players and the quality of players that are already here, together with the new manager, I am very positive that next season will be a lot better.

"I am looking forward to working in that advisory role and obviously helping Erik as much as he wants it himself.

"In my last two clubs, we never a signed a player without the approval of the manager and I'm pretty sure this will be the case with Erik.

"I'm also positive that Erik will make some suggestions, then together with the board, together with the scouting department and possibly myself, we will then hopefully decide the right players.

"Obviously, I am more than willing and prepared to help both Erik and whomever in the club in order to change everything for the better."

However, former RB Leipzig coach Rangnick is yet to speak with the incoming Ten Hag due to the latter's commitments with Ajax.

"[Ten Hag's] focus is on Ajax now and trying to win the title there, my focus for the next few weeks is on our club, on getting the best possible results," the German continued.

"Whenever he has time, or would like to speak, yes I am available, but I would not want to contact him on my own account now."

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