Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud were on target as France picked up their first Nations League victory of the campaign with a 2-0 victory over Austria on Thursday.

Les Bleus faced serious injury difficulties heading into the international break, with Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante among the absentees, and often lacked fluidity at the Stade de France.

But Mbappe stepped up after 56 minutes to drive past numerous defenders and finish past Patrick Pentz before Giroud headed in to help Didier Deschamps' side to victory.

The winners of the last edition, France will now have their Nations League relegation fate in their hands, but cannot progress through Group A1 after leaders Croatia downed Denmark.

Mbappe thought he had curled France into a second-minute lead, only for the offside flag to deny him, before Jonathan Clauss forced Pentz to push over from range.

Jules Kounde was withdrawn as Les Bleus' injury woes continued before Benoit Badiashile's acrobatic effort was tipped onto the crossbar by Pentz, who denied Antoine Griezmann's close-range follow-up.

A smart passing move between Mbappe and Griezmann resulted in Clauss curling narrowly over after the interval, but France were soon ahead.

Mbappe received the ball from a driving Giroud run before powering forward into the area and firing a right-footed effort past the reach of Pentz.

Griezmann provided the second goal as his cross from the right wing found Giroud, who flicked a header into the top-left corner to secure the victory for France.

Erik ten Hag needs to "engage" with Cristiano Ronaldo and seek his input if he is to keep the Portuguese superstar happy at Manchester United, according to Ralf Rangnick's former assistant Chris Armas.

Ronaldo is reportedly eager to leave Old Trafford once again after United failed to qualify for the Champions League last season.

Several clubs have been linked with a move for Ronaldo, but Chelsea apparently decided to focus on other targets; Bayern Munich said such a transfer would not align with their club policies; and Atletico Madrid fans have actively protested the idea of the club signing a Real Madrid great.

For the time being, it would appear Ronaldo is set to remain at the club for the upcoming season, and he belatedly made his first pre-season appearance in the weekend's 1-1 friendly draw with Rayo Vallecano having missed United's tour of Thailand and Australia for "family reasons".

There are certainly those in the fanbase who are keen for Ronaldo to leave as well, despite him top scoring with 24 goals across all competitions last term, as there is a perception his presence will inhibit new manager Ten Hag developing a style of play that requires intense pressing.

But Armas, who assisted Rangnick at the club last season, is adamant Ronaldo has a lot to give.

"It's a hands-on approach, speaking with him, bringing him into the office, asking him questions, so he's part of the solutions and part of the success," he told Sky Sports when asked how to maximise Ronaldo's impacts.

"It was my job to work out how to get all that fire, experience and talent and challenge him as much as I could. I think the most important thing is to engage with Cristiano.

"He's got so much to give, his commitment to winning and scoring, each guy has their different type of leadership. He can be a leader in his way, and my goal like everyone in the squad was to say how can I get the most out of Cristiano.

"When you talk about, at the highest level, seeing a professional and what winning means to Ronaldo, what scoring goals mean to him - he's on the team, a big part of the team and he's a guy who produced."

The 2021-22 season ended up seeing a disappointing United plumb new depths, as they recorded their lowest Premier League points total (58) and failed to record a positive goal difference for the first time in over 30 years in the top flight.

Armas came in with Rangnick when United were attempting to steady the ship following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who paid the price for a rocky start to the campaign.

Rarely were United impressive on the pitch, and issues relating to their performances were exacerbated by leaks to the media, reports of player unrest and generally what Armas considered "noise".

For all the criticism aimed at Rangnick and his team, Armas believes United were effectively on track for a top-four finish until Champions League elimination by Atletico in March derailed their season.

"People who know me know what I care about and how much I value the team. What happens on the inside, as we say," he continued.

"When things are trying to penetrate and negativity is coming from the outside – to be honest, a lot of it was untrue. Who's to say what's true and not, but I can tell you a lot of it was untrue, and that it does create negativity. For those players, and myself included, you can't listen to the noise.

"We were trying to become a team, it's always a process but at Manchester United, at the time we arrived, all of us were trying to come together.

"I think Ralf did a really good job of stabilising things when we got there. You realise what a challenge it was, but after the Champions League exit, not getting the result at home, you can see the air got sucked out a little bit in what we were doing. Then it becomes difficult.

"Did we really move the needle, in the end? We wanted to finish in the top four and play a small part in that, it's disappointing in the end but overall it was an incredible experience for me."

United begin the new season at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday.

Milan boss Stefano Pioli is eager to entrench himself as a club legend, ahead of his side's Serie A title defence.

The Rossoneri only lost one league game from January to claim their first Scudetto since 2011, beating out arch-rivals Inter on the final day of the season.

It was a redemptive achievement for the 56-year-old, who was only hired on an interim basis after Marco Giampaolo's dismissal in October 2019.

This was followed by Milan's chief football officer Zvonimir Boban effectively falling on his sword to keep Pioli at the club in March 2020, with Milan's form improving as Ivan Gazidis negotiated Ralf Rangnick's potential hire.

Pioli is seeking to emulate the club's coaching greats and believes cultivating a diverse squad has been key, as Milan look to restore their status among the best in European football.

"You can see many legends on the walls of Milanello and the opportunity to get there is exciting," the Italian coach said at a fan event.

"The secret is to try to do the best from day one and have the courage to grow day by day. Only after that, one can decide his targets. It's fundamental to identify the path."

"I began my coaching career in 1999 and now I am more focused on priorities. Multicultural dressing rooms are so nice, we must accept everyone's diversity and group with differences. Players become stronger by knowing each other."

The Rossoneri will have their first pre-season run out on Saturday, with a fixture away to Koln.

Marcus Rashford believes enjoying a full pre-season will allow him to rediscover his form under new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag, saying he is "ready and focused" ahead of the new Premier League season.

Rashford endured a poor campaign in 2021-22, scoring just four goals in 25 league appearances as United finished sixth and posted their worst-ever Premier League points tally (58).

Having only played 1,232 minutes of Premier League football, Rashford was left out of Gareth Southgate's England squad for June's Nations League fixtures.

The Three Lions boss also claimed Rashford, as well as club team-mate Jadon Sancho, had "a lot to do" to make England's squad for the World Cup later this year after struggling on the domestic stage.

But after featuring in England's Euro 2020 party last year and missing out on a full pre-season ahead of the Coronavirus-affected 2020-21 campaign, Rashford is relishing his time training under Ten Hag. 

"I have definitely not had that much rest before in a summer break, so it was a little bit strange at first and I had to adjust my program a little bit, make it a little bit longer, so I could come in with a positive look on everything," he told the club's website.

"We are excited to go away [on tour] now. You feel every day now you are getting that one step sharper and one step fitter to being ready for the season.

"I don't think I have had a proper pre-season since 2019 so for me it is definitely a positive thing.

"I feel like I probably needed that time to switch off a little bit and me having that time enabled me to refocus a lot earlier than I expected, to be honest. 

"Like I say, I feel ready and focused so when that first game does come, it's good to know you have done almost six weeks of training beforehand. It will definitely be a positive."

United endured a dire campaign last term as their major trophy drought was extended to five years, with caretaker boss Ralf Rangnick posting the worst points-per-game return (1.5) and win percentage (42 per cent) of any manager in the club's Premier League history.

But with Ten Hag at the helm, Rashford says there is a newfound excitement among the United squad. 

"We have got that feeling of excitement and that buzz around the training ground again and so it is definitely positive going into pre-season," he added.

"It is just about, one, getting the principles right of how Erik wants us to play and the details, and two, enjoying it. 

"In the first week of training we have done both and everyone is looking forward to going on the tour and putting what we have done in training into the first games.

"It is a fresh start for everyone, and for me personally I have had quite a long break, a nice camp before coming back into training, and we are starting off on the right foot.

"Like I said, everyone is looking forward to pre-season now and going out to try to put into the games what we have learned in training so far, and what we will continue to learn, not only in the pre-season but throughout the season as well."

United will face the likes of Liverpool and Atletico Madrid in high-profile friendlies before beginning their Premier League season against Brighton and Hove Albion on August 7.

Manchester United overlooking Antonio Conte hurt Patrice Evra, who has no doubt his former Juventus boss could have turned things around at Old Trafford. 

Conte was linked with United ahead of the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last November, but Ralf Rangnick was given the nod as an interim boss with a view to changing the club from the top down as a consultant at the end of the 2021-22 season. 

Rangnick averaged 1.5 points per game and a win percentage of 42 in the Premier League – both of which were record lows in the competition for a Red Devils manager – as United failed to qualify for the Champions League. 

Conte ended up at Tottenham instead and steered them from ninth to a top-four finish, leaving Evra to wonder what might have been. 

"It hurts my heart because I think Conte, [Jurgen] Klopp, [Pep] Guardiola – all those managers are the best in the world right now and we could have had him at Manchester United," Evra told The Mirror. 

"But some people at the club, they said: 'It's not our style, it's not what we’re looking for.' 

"So let's see, now we have Erik ten Hag. Let's see what he's going to do. He has my support. But then, even if you brought a chef in, as the manager of Man United, he'd have my full support." 

Evra added: "It's a massive disappointment because he [Conte] could have done something at Man United. 

"And you can see with Tottenham, he helped them to qualify for the Champions League spot. They have the same players, so that's why this manager is a genius. 

"When I arrived at Juventus, every player told me: 'Patrice, this guy is a genius. He's addicted, he's so passionate about football. So you're going to run really hard. He's going to make you sweat.' 

"But if you look at the Tottenham fans, they are so happy because when they see the players now, win or lose, they give everything. That's the mentality of Antonio Conte. 

"That's why I say it hurts. Not because it's Tottenham – I love every team – but it's just because Conte could have done something." 

Austria manager Ralf Rangnick says it is "an absolute miracle" Christian Eriksen is alive, let alone playing football again without any worries.

Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest when playing for Denmark against Finland at Euro 2020 a year ago and was brought back to life on the pitch.

However, the 30-year-old was unable to play for Inter on medical grounds as Italy prevent players from competing after having a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted.

Brentford offered the midfielder a six-month contract in January and he subsequently delivered, scoring once and assisting four to help the Bees away from the relegation zone.

Thomas Frank remains hopeful of keeping Eriksen at the Brentford Community Stadium next season, despite interest from Manchester United and former club Tottenham.

Rangnick, speaking before Austria's Nations League clash with Denmark on Monday, cannot believe that Eriksen is back on the football pitch exactly a year on from the issues on June 12.

"It's an absolute miracle [that Christian Eriksen is still alive]. I can remember the pictures of the team forming a circle around him as he was being treated," Rangnick told reporters. 

"It really was a matter of life and death. If anyone had predicted at the time that months later, six months later, he would be able to play football again, he would not have believed it.

"I talked to Kasper [Schmeichel] about it before the game, and he also said he doesn't worry about [Eriksen] anymore, because Eriksen enjoys it, he has no problems at all anymore so sees no problems playing.

"And it's extraordinary that when something like this happens to you, that you go about your job and play again without any worries. This is also something extraordinary."

Manchester United have become somewhat accustomed to disappointment over the past nine years, but the 2021-22 season arguably saw them plumb new depths.

United accumulated just 58 points, their worst record in a single Premier League campaign.

But on top of that, champions Manchester City's haul of 93 points meant United finished the season 35 points adrift of the summit – that is comfortably the furthest off the top the Red Devils have ended a term in the Premier League era.

It was also the first time since 1989-90 that United failed to finish a league season with a positive goal difference, as they scored and conceded 57 goals.

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick said during his tenure that the squad needed the equivalent of open-heart surgery, suggesting they needed potentially 10 new players.

There are arguably four players who head into the pre-season under new manager Erik ten Hag having not done themselves a disservice this season, though even they will still have points to prove.
 

Fred

The United career of Fred has been a peculiar one. It's fair to say even his most-ardent backers would admit he's not exactly been worth the monumental reported transfer fee of £52million.

But in his defence, a lot of his time at United has been spent playing out of position. At no point since he joined have the club had a world-class defensive midfielder, meaning he's very often been shoe-horned into that role.

And it rarely takes long for his glaring inadequacies in such a position to come to the surface. First and foremost, his awareness of what's around him is poor, and that's arguably the nightmare situation for someone playing a role in which you expect to receive the ball under pressure just outside your box.

The 2021-22 season still had a bit of that for Fred, but crucially there were more signs of him operating more functionally as a 'number eight', rather than a six, and while few would consider him to be an outstanding passer, it's in this role where his excellent work rate and generally solid technique become much more of an asset to the team.

Among United players to feature for at least 500 minutes across all competitions this season, only Diogo Dalot (2.9) attempted more tackles than Fred (2.7) on a per-90-minute basis, while just three players engaged in more duels than the Brazilian (11.7). He also ranked behind only three for passes into the final third (7.5).

Now, perhaps perception plays a part in what many would consider a decent season for Fred, meaning his low performance level in the past suggests his improvement is exaggerated. But as long as he's not playing as a six again, expect Ten Hag to find a use for him.
 

David de Gea

Few would disagree with the suggestion De Gea's level dipped significantly a few years ago, but there were some positive signs in the 2021-22 season, almost as if he had reacted to the scare of seeing Dean Henderson get some game time in 2020-21.

In fact, his 2.8 goals prevented was the second-best score in the Premier League, highlighting how good his shot-stopping was.

Over the course of the campaign, only Illan Meslier (143) and Kasper Schmeichel (131) managed more saves than De Gea (128). This obviously proves just how unreliable the defence in front of him was, because no team of their stature should have such a busy goalkeeper.

For example, Ederson faced just 60 shots, which was the fewest of any goalkeeper to play over 1,600 minutes.

But despite De Gea generally enjoying a positive season when it comes to bailing United out, there remain plenty of fans and critics who feel the club could still do better than him.

Under Ten Hag, it would seem likely there will be a greater reliance on keeping possession, and this could be where other options are considered.

While De Gea's own-half passing accuracy of 88.2 per cent doesn't sound alarming, there were 12 goalkeepers (minimum 500 minutes) with better records, while the 96 and 95 per cent posted by Ederson and Alisson, respectively, show a significant gulf.

Similarly, in the same group of goalkeepers, De Gea ranked 18th (out of 26) for long-pass accuracy (33.1 per cent). The gap to Ederson (59.3 per cent) and Alisson (48.1 per cent) is even more pronounced.

Of course, a goalkeeper's primary function is to prevent goals, but if yours is completely out of sync with the team's style, then that's automatically an area where you're not maximising potential.
 

Cristiano Ronaldo

When Ronaldo's return was confirmed last year, there was an awful lot of noise around whether he was right for United.

People claimed that, despite his goals, Ronaldo made Juventus a less functional team because he didn't offer enough outside the penalty area.

Those suggestions never quite went away at United either because, regardless of how effective he proved to be in the box, the team in general played below expectations for practically the entire season.

It's impossible to say whether a different striker with a broader arsenal would have turned United into a better team, but given how deep their issues run, it seems a little unfair to pin the blame on Ronaldo.

After all, goals win football matches – he certainly did his bit. Across all competitions, he scored 24 goals at a rate of one every 132.9 minutes. Only Jamie Vardy (131.6 mins), Mohamed Salah (129.5 mins) and Riyad Mahrez (122.1 mins) netted with greater frequency among Premier League players (min. 50 shots).

Similarly, only Salah (31) and Harry Kane (27) scored more than Ronaldo, though each of them had at least an extra 800 minutes on the pitch than him.

Ronaldo's 24 makes him one of only six players to net at least 20 goals in a single season for United since Alex Ferguson retired, with Bruno Fernandes and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (both 28) plundering the most in that span.

Surely Ten Hag won't discard him?
 

Anthony Elanga

There was an expectation Elanga was going to play a reasonable amount of football this season, such had been his progress in the United youth sides.

But he didn't feature in a single Premier League game until Ralf Rangnick's first match in charge at the start of December. Before then, he'd had one brief cameo in the EFL Cup before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer promptly forgot about him again.

As it happened, Elanga proved to be a bit of a Rangnick favourite. Even though a lot of his appearances were from the bench, no outfield player featured in more games for the interim manager than the speedy forward.

Rangnick clearly liked Elanga's pace, attitude and work rate, and he did chip in with three goals. Granted, that was hardly an outstanding number, but over the same period only Ronaldo (12) and Fernandes (five) managed more.

His nine chances created was a pretty poor return, but again, only Ronaldo (84) and Fernandes (67) attempted more shots than the Sweden international (27), so he was offering something in attack.

There's undoubtedly a lot of room for improvement there, and he'll need to sharpen up from a creative sense if he's to have a long-term future at the club, but he's clearly in a stronger position than 12 months ago.

Former Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick made a positive start to his tenure in charge of the Austrian national team, defeating Croatia 3-0 in their Nations League opener.

It was Croatia who enjoyed most of the possession early, controlling 60 per cent in the first half, but it would be the Austrians heading into the break as the happier side after Marko Arnautovic tucked his strike into the bottom corner 41 minutes in.

After being out-shot by the Croatians 10-4 in the first half – with Austria's only shot on target finding the back of the net – the second half was a much different story.

Of the seven shots on target in the second 45, all seven belonged to Austria, and they were rewarded with two more quick goals as Michael Gregoritsch made it 2-0 in the 54th minute, before Marcel Sabitzer struck from long-range to cap off the win in stunning style three minutes later.

With the win, Rangnick became the first manager to guide Austria to a win and a clean sheet in their debut since Hans Krankl in 2002.

Speaking after the game, Rangnick said he was pleased with how his side navigated some early pressure to come out on top.

"We had problems in the first 25 minutes, but getting the lead just before the break did us good," he said.

"In the second half we played really well and scored two wonderful goals – we could even have scored more. 

"I am very satisfied."

Striker Arnautovic added: "The players were full of energy. Croatia are an excellent team, but we played a great match. 

"We turned our chances to goals and deserved this win. We want to return to the top."

Austria continues their Nations League campaign against Denmark on Monday.

One of the worst-kept secrets in football is out in the open after Manchester United confirmed Paul Pogba's second stint at the club is coming to an end.

The France star departed for Juventus back in 2012 before returning to Old Trafford in an £89million deal four years later.

Few Premier League players have proven as enigmatic as Pogba, with the 29-year-old capable of incredible individual brilliance but frequently subjected to fierce criticism throughout his difficult second spell at United.

From a World Cup success to sparring with Jose Mourinho, Stats Perform looks back on the highs and lows of Pogba's second spell with United.

High: Cup glory in triumphant first season

Pogba played his part as Mourinho, also in his first season at the club, led United to what remain their most recent major trophies.

The Frenchman made 51 appearances in all competitions as the Red Devils scooped an EFL Cup and Europa League double, ensuring Champions League qualification despite a sixth-placed Premier League finish. 

After starting United's 3-2 Wembley triumph over Southampton in February 2017, Pogba opened the scoring as United beat Ajax 2-0 to lift their second piece of silverware of the season in May, as the Red Devils won their sixth major European honour.

High: Conquering the centurions as City's celebrations put on hold

Manchester City's 2017-18 Premier League campaign was record-breaking in many ways, with Pep Guardiola's men becoming the only side to pick up 100 points in the competition, the first to win 32 of their 38 games, and the first to win 18 consecutive matches as they romped to the title.

They also, however, missed out on wrapping up the sweetest of title triumphs in a Manchester derby – a fact which owed primarily to a rampant performance from Pogba.

With City 2-0 up at half-time and seemingly cruising to the win they required to wrap up the title at a jubilant Etihad Stadium in April 2018, Pogba scored twice in two second-half minutes before Chris Smalling completed a sensational comeback, as United put the City celebrations on ice. 

High: World Cup glory with France

United finished the 2017-18 season as Premier League runners-up, with Pogba registering six goals and 12 assists in 37 appearances throughout the campaign.

And the midfielder carried that form into the 2018 World Cup in Russia, scoring in a 4-2 final win over Croatia as Les Blues were crowned world champions for the second time – his strike was the first goal scored from outside the penalty area in a World Cup final since Italy's Marco Tardelli did so against West Germany in 1982.

Pogba started six of the seven games France played during their triumphant campaign, but any hopes he may have harboured of building on those displays with his club were soon proven to be misplaced…

Low: Sparring with Mourinho as the world watches on

Reports of Pogba and Mourinho possessing a strained relationship were widespread during the Portuguese boss's time at the club, and such tensions were laid bare for the world to see in September 2018.

After an Instagram post appearing to show Pogba laughing with team-mates Luke Shaw and Andreas Pereira while United fell to an EFL Cup loss to Derby County, Sky Sports' cameras captured Mourinho discussing the incident with a visibly irked Pogba on the training ground.

It was not a good look as United struggled desperately in Mourinho's final months at the helm, with the former Chelsea boss relieved of his duties with the Red Devils sat sixth in the Premier League in December 2018.

Low: Penalty woe in 2021

Pogba enjoyed a renaissance of sorts under Mourinho's successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, ending the Norwegian's first half-season in charge with 13 league goals and nine assists, making 2018-19 his most productive campaign in a Red Devils shirt.

But Solskjaer's men frequently fell short on the big stage, most notably in their 2021 Europa League final loss to Villarreal, as David de Gea missed the vital kick at the end of a long penalty shoot-out after Pogba had been substituted for Dan James during extra-time.

That was not the only penalty heartache Pogba would experience in 2021, as France crashed out of the delayed Euro 2020 after a round-of-16 shoot-out loss to Switzerland, with Kylian Mbappe failing from the spot as Pogba's stunning 25-yard strike counted for nought. 

 

Low: Seeing red in Liverpool rout

Pogba's final season at Old Trafford was one to forget, as United finished sixth in the Premier League with their lowest-ever points tally in the competition (58), and interim manager Ralf Rangnick ended his six-month tenure with the worst Premier League win rate of any United boss (41.7 per cent – 10 wins from 24 games).

But before Rangnick entered the United dugout, Pogba endured the ignominy of being sent off as Solskjaer's Red Devils fell to a dire 5-0 home loss to Liverpool in October 2021 – their heaviest home loss without scoring since a 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City in February 1955.

Pogba's dismissal came just 15 minutes after he entered the fray at the break, making him the first substitute to be sent off in a Premier League for over three years (since Marcus Rashford in September 2018).

 

Andy O'Boyle has returned to Manchester United as deputy football director.

O'Boyle will leave his role as head of elite performance at the Premier League in a move that the Red Devils say will "further strengthening leadership across the club's football department."

He is to provide support for football director John Murtough in driving the club's football strategy across the first team, academy and women's team.

O'Boyle will be a familiar face at the Premier League club in a new era under manager Erik ten Hag, having spent 16 years as a coach in the United academy working with the likes of Marcus Rashford.

"We are delighted to welcome Andy back to Manchester United to take up this important role in the club's leadership," said Murtough.

"Andy has experience across all technical areas of football, from fitness and sports science to scouting and recruitment.

"This will make him a valuable addition to my team at Carrington as we continue to strengthen leadership and strategic planning across all our football activities."

United confirmed on Sunday that former interim manager Ralf Rangnick would not be taking up the consultancy role initially planned for him.

Rangnick has been appointed as Austria's head coach. He took over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November last year but only managed to guide United to sixth place and their lowest ever Premier League points total of 58.

Ralf Rangnick says he and Manchester United agreed it was in the best interests of both parties that he did not take up a consultancy role with the club.

The Red Devils on Sunday announced that Rangnick would not be staying on at Old Trafford.

Rangnick was appointed as interim manager after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked by the Premier League club last November.

The German was due to take up an advisory position with United, but it appeared unlikely he would stay on after he was named as Austria head coach last month.

With Erik ten Hag having since been appointed as United manager, Rangnick's short time in England is over.

Rangnick said in a press conference: "After the last game against Crystal Palace one week ago, I had some talks with people in charge at Manchester United, with the board that I have been in close contact with before.

"And over the last few days, we came to the conclusion that, for Manchester United, but especially for me, it would be better when I focus on my task as head coach of the Austrian national team.

"Then we decided to mutually resolve this contract as their advisor, to not let it become valid."

United finished the 2021-22 season sixth in the top flight, a mammoth 35 points adrift of champions Manchester City.

Rangnick's points-per-game (1.5) and win percentage (42 per cent) are both the lowest of any United manager in the Premier League era, while the 58 points they finished the season with is also their lowest tally in the competition. 

The Red Devils have failed to win a trophy since 2017, while they last won the Premier League title in Alex Ferguson's last season in charge in the 2012-13 campaign.

Ralf Rangnick will not be taking up the consultancy role that Manchester United had planned for him, it was revealed on Sunday.

After a disappointing spell as interim manager, the prospect of Rangnick remaining part of United's plans had appeared to fade.

He was appointed Austria's new coach last month, and that only heightened the likelihood he would move on.

Now United have confirmed Rangnick, who was considered an outstanding strategist when he joined the club, would not be part of their plans in the future.

It means Erik ten Hag, the manager brought in from Ajax on a three-year deal, will not be working with the man he has succeeded.

United, announcing the clean break, said: "We would like to thank Ralf Rangnick for his efforts as interim manager over the past six months.

"By mutual agreement, Ralf will now focus solely on his new role as manager of the Austria national team and will not therefore be taking up a consultancy role at Old Trafford.

"We would like to wish Ralf the best of luck in this next chapter of his career."

Rangnick stepped in as interim boss when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked back in November, with the initial intention being he would move into an advisory role at the end of the season.

United's often dismal performances and squad harmony came under intense scrutiny under Rangnick.

They trailed in a jarring 35 points behind champions Manchester City in the 2021-22 campaign, finishing in a disappointing sixth place.

Rangnick suggested he could balance working for both United and Austria, but that plan has now been knocked on the head.

United have failed to win a trophy since 2017, while they last won the Premier League title in Alex Ferguson's last season in charge in the 2012-13 campaign.

Manchester United are confident change is coming and they will be "relentless" in attempts to bring long-term success back to Old Trafford, according to CEO Richard Arnold.

United have become accustomed to not challenging for the Premier League title since Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013, but the 2021-22 season saw them plumb new depths.

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, caretaker manager Michael Carrick and then interim manager Ralf Rangnick, United accumulated just 58 points, their worst record in a single Premier League campaign.

But on top of that, champions Manchester City's haul of 93 points meant United finished the season 35 points adrift of the summit – that is comfortably the furthest off the top the Red Devils have ended a term in the Premier League era.

It was also the first time since 1989-90 that United failed to finish a league season with a positive goal difference, as they scored and conceded 57 goals.

United looked to get their preparations for next season started early by confirming the appointment of Erik ten Hag in April, and he has already taken up his role with a view to having a head-start when pre-season begins in late June.

And CEO Arnold, now in charge following the departure of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, insisted club chiefs share the fans' frustrations but was keen to emphasise the board's confidence in bringing success back to United with their long-term strategy.

Speaking at an April fans' forum from which the minutes were released on Thursday, Arnold said: "Suffice to say, we are not happy with where we are in terms of performance on the pitch.

"We understand fans are frustrated and want to see change and improvement. I can assure you that we share that frustration very intensely within the club.

"But we also feel confident that change is coming because of the action being taken to drive long-term success. The appointment of Erik ten Hag was the most visible example of that action, and the most important. We're pleased to have got that done early and we can't wait for Erik to get started.

"Success won't be achieved overnight but we are determined to get there, and we will be relentless in our efforts to achieve it. The support of fans will be crucial, and we accept that we have further work to do to strengthen that relationship, aided by the work of this forum."

When things are not going well on the pitch for United, frustrated fans quickly turn their attention to the club's owners, the Glazer family.

Thousands of supporters protested the Glazers' ownership during United's last three home matches of the season, but Arnold is convinced the club is doing more than most to engage with and listen to fans.

Additionally, he is hopeful an improvement in on-field matters next season will breed wider positivity.

"As stated earlier, everyone at the club, from the owners down, accepts that performances this season have been well below what we expect," he continued. "We are taking decisive action to improve things and there is huge commitment and passion across the club to return to where we think we belong: challenging for, and winning, titles.

"We are very aware of how fans are feeling and understand their concerns and frustration. Football is a game of passion and we fully respect fans' right to make their feelings known, as long as this remains legal and peaceful at all times. We have a duty of care to the fans who come to enjoy games, and to our staff who enable games to go ahead, and their safety will always be our priority.

"I would very much hope that all fans within Old Trafford approach next season with renewed optimism and confidence as we look forward to a fresh start under Erik ten Hag.

"We have the best fans in the world and when Old Trafford is at its loudest we have a significant advantage against our opponents. I hope this unrivalled passion will be used to support the team and the new manager as we start this exciting new chapter together.

"As a club we are doing more than ever before – and more than most of our peers – to engage with fans and listen to your views. We have strengthened and expanded this fans' forum, set up our new fans' advisory board, and continue to engage directly with [fan] groups. We are committed to listening to our fans and working collaboratively to improve the fan experience and keep the club strong and healthy. We need fans to keep engaging with us to be able to do this."

Erik ten Hag said Ralf Rangnick's continued working relationship with Manchester United is a matter for the club, while saying now is the time to "make a future".

Rangnick stepped in as interim boss when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked back in November, with the initial intention being he would move into an advisory role at the end of the season.

United's performances and squad harmony came under a lot of scrutiny under Rangnick, but he insisted he would remain as a consultant even when being named as Austria head coach earlier this month.

Ten Hag is the man United, who finished sixth in the Premier League, tasked with bringing the good times back to Old Trafford and he said regardless of whether Rangnick continues to work with the club the key decisions will be his.

"I analyse by myself. I observe and I speak with a lot of people. But I will draw my own line," he said at a media conference on Monday.

"That [if Rangnick stays] is for the club."

United have failed to win a trophy since 2017, while they last won the Premier League title in Alex Ferguson's last season in charge in the 2012-13 campaign.

The Red Devils recorded their lowest ever points tally in the competition, while rumblings that all is not well among the playing squad have been present throughout a tumultuous campaign.

Ten Hag is leaving a job where he has delivered three Eredivisie titles and overseen a run to the Champions League semi-finals back in the 2018-19 season.

But the Dutchman does not believe he is taking a risk by making the move to Old Trafford.

"The confidence is that I have a good feeling with the people around, I have a good feeling from the meetings. We have a plan and now it's about getting the plan done," he added.

"What we are thinking about is this is a project, I know it takes time, but I also know that in this club, and I have the experience with other clubs like Ajax and Bayern Munich, at the top there's never time. But we want to win, we want every game, so we go from game to game and then we will see.

"I don't see it as a risk. This club has a great history and now let's make a future. It is really exciting to do that with the people around at the club, we will bring new people into the staff, and work with the players to try and achieve success."

United finished 35 points adrift of champions and rivals Manchester City this season and Ten Hag is focused on building rather than making ambitious claims to challenge for the title.

"I don't think about that at this moment. I'm thinking that this is a project and it takes time," he said.

"We want to win every game. We go from game to game and then we'll see.

"It's a fantastic league. I've already met big coaches and big teams in the Premier League and I know how to deal with that. But it's clear, the Premier League is the biggest league in the world I think and I'm looking forward to battling with them."

Ralf Rangnick lamented another abject away showing from Manchester United at Crystal Palace, while he thanked Brighton and Hove Albion for helping the Red Devils to Europa League qualification.

United lost six consecutive away league matches for the first time since March 1981 after Wilfried Zaha's strike proved decisive in the 1-0 win for Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Erik ten Hag was in attendance at Selhurst Park and has much to ponder after United finished the Premier League season with a record-low points tally (58).

It was also the first time United did not end a league campaign with a positive goal difference (zero in 2021-22) for the first time since the 1989-90 season (minus-one).

However, Brighton came from behind to defeat top-six hopefuls West Ham, which meant United will be playing Europa League football next term under Ten Hag after finishing sixth in the league.

Rangnick, who will move into a consultancy role alongside his managerial job at Austria, expressed his gratitude to Graham Potter's side for overcoming David Moyes' West Ham.

"Yes, I think Brighton did us the favour to turn the game around because they were losing at half-time," he told reporters. 

"They scored three times in the second half and that was the good thing about the weekend and about this fixture.

"We would have loved to take care of ourselves but in a way the game was indicative of last couple of weeks, especially when we played away from home.

"It was a new experience for me, not necessarily coming in the middle of the season, but knowing that it would be an interim role. Unfortunately, we didn't have any pre-season and unfortunately, we couldn't strengthen the squad.

"These things happen and in hindsight, it was a little bit bittersweet or sweet bitter rather because in the first couple of weeks and months we did well.

"We collected enough points with an average of 2.1 until the game against Atletico [Madrid] but I think that defeat in the Champions League was in a way like somebody popped the balloon."

Rangnick also bemoaned United's away performance as they failed to capitalise on chances and allowed Palace to impose themselves on the contest.

"I think we had three good opportunities to score ourselves in the first half but we didn't and, especially in the first half, we had too many unforced errors and bad giveaways, that is the way we conceded the goal," he continued.

"In fact, it was our assist, the goalscorer, in the end, was Zaha but the ones who gave the assist were ourselves.

"There was a throw-in – just keep the ball into our own half – and the way we defended that shot was also not the way that you have to defend in this league and that's why we were trailing again 1-0.

"At half-time, we were trying to bring on all the young strikers we had on the bench. We had some opportunities in the second half but it was not clinical enough and that's why we lost again away from home."

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