Ralf Rangnick insisted motivation should not be a problem for players at a club like Manchester United amid a disappointing run of form.

A 1-0 defeat at lowly Everton condemned United to their second loss in four Premier League games, as many as they suffered in their previous 15 top-flight games following the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

That leaves Rangnick's side six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with seven league matches left, as United appear set to miss out on Champions League qualification this season.

The Red Devils will look to get back on track when they host Norwich City on Saturday at Old Trafford, where protests against United owners, the Glazer family, are planned to happen before kick-off.

Rangnick expressed his understanding for the frustration of the supporters as he suggested motivation should not be a factor at United.

"We had spells in games where we played well where we showed the team would be able to play on a higher level, for example, against Crystal Palace, West Ham, Tottenham, away at Leeds, until the 70th minute at Aston Villa," he told reporters.

"I would have thought we would have been able to play sustainably on a higher level. I'm not happy about that for sure, but we have to recover.

"I can imagine what the reasons are for the problems and of course, without using it as an excuse, we have lost a few players since the West Ham game, we lost three of our strikers that were part of that game.

"The goal against Everton I was not happy with at all, the unforced error in midfield from Fred's pass and Nemanja Matic's response, but even after that there were 12, 15 seconds we could have defended better.

"This is the problem we are having, we are not keeping clean sheets. Again, motivation shouldn't be a problem at a club like Man Utd. They should always have an eternal level of motivation to compete."

He added on the planned protests: "We all know that football is a game of passions and emotions and we can all understand.

"I can understand the supporters being disappointed about where we stand in the table and the performance against Everton.

"I still believe our supporters are one of the best, if not the best in England, as long as they do the protest in a peaceful way and as long as they still support the team in the stadium.

"They have the right to express their opinion. Emotionally, I can understand them being disappointed."

There are continued reports that Ajax coach Erik ten Hag has agreed to take charge at United next season when Rangnick turns to a consultancy role at the end of his short-term deal.

But the former RB Leipzig head coach insists all of the focus is on the game against Norwich, following suit after Ten Hag reiterated his commitments remain with Ajax.

"I don't know if it's a done deal," he added. "My reply is the same as Erik ten Hag's was. My focus is on the game tomorrow.

"Again, we all know he is a good manager, that he has done a good job at Ajax and also at former clubs, but right now it doesn't make sense to tell you what I think about any other coach."

Manchester United must forget about reports surrounding their next manager and focus on fixing their season, according to left-back Alex Telles.

Ralf Rangnick was appointed on an interim basis until the end of the campaign following the dismissal of United great Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the German to then take up a consultancy role at Old Trafford.

United initially showed promise under the former RB Leipzig coach, but have lost two of their last four Premier League games, having lost one of their last 15 top-flight games following Solskjaer's departure.

That has left Rangnick's side seventh in the league, six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, and with United already out of all cup competitions, pressure continues to mount.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag has reportedly agreed to take charge at United next season, beating Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino to the role, but Telles is not interested in that speculation.

"No, I don't think it influences us because we know what we have to do," he told Sky Sports.

"There are people at the club working on the new manager – but that's for next season. And next season depends on what we do in these remaining games, so we need to stay focused.

"We can't think about who the next manager will be, we need to think about working hard in our next game.

He added: "If I didn't believe we can still rescue the season then I shouldn't be here.

"We know the duty we have to meet our objectives. We can't think of the games further ahead, we have a 'final' against Norwich City [on Saturday] in front of us first."

The United squad has come under significant scrutiny, with the future of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba questioned, while Harry Maguire has been regularly cited as an issue in defence.

United supporter group The 1958 are planning to display their disapproval with the side and the off-field ongoings with a protest against current owners, the Glazer family, ahead of the clash with Norwich.

But Telles insists all the players in the dressing room are attempting to pull in the right direction amid distractions off the pitch.

"Everyone in the dressing room really wants to win," he continued. "No player at this club doesn't have this desire. We know about our responsibilities – we have families, we have dreams, we have objectives.

"We want to do the work, not talk and turn this situation around. We know the quality we have, we know the expectation the fans and the club have of us and we need to be prepared to do our best to change things for the better."

United will look to get their top-four push back on track against Norwich, who they have defeated 12 times in their last 15 league meetings, and Telles suggested consistency will be key for Rangnick's team.

"We need more consistency. We've started games really well, but there are moments where the opponents have been on top and then we've lacked solidity, which has affected results," he said.

"We need to keep it up for 90 minutes. We know how quickly things can change in football and the team that concentrates best and really focuses will be successful."

However, consistency may not be the only issue given United have to face Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in their final seven games as they fight for Champions League qualification.

Gary Neville says there are no guarantees Erik ten Hag will want to take over as Manchester United boss with the club having descended into a "farce".

Ajax head coach Ten Hag is reportedly the man United want to take over from interim boss Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.

The Red Devils look set to miss out on qualifying for the Champions League next season, as they are seventh in the Premier League after a 1-0 defeat to struggling at Everton on Saturday.

United have not won a trophy since 2017 and are in need of a rebuilding job.

Neville took aim at the players after their latest insipid display and although the former United defender is hopeful they will get their man, he would not be surprised if Ten Hag decides the Old Trafford hotseat is not for him.

He said on the Gary Neville Podcast: "I've got very few words left for Manchester United. No anger, no comment anymore. They are a bit of a farce; you almost expect it from them. The players are taking Ralf Rangnick down with them. They are bad.

"They've got to get to the end of the season as quickly as possible. The reality is that any kind of performance in the last week against Leicester and Everton and they would have been in top four, but they haven't got the spirit or the fight.

"When I look at Manchester City and Liverpool, they have humble football players; no over-inflated egos, they understand their position, the team comes first. There isn't one Manchester United player that would get into any of those two teams, so why would you have an over-inflated ego, think you didn't have to work hard, or be spiritless? I don't see anything anymore."

He added: "I've read in the Sunday papers that Erik ten Hag wants all of his demands met or else he won't come to the club. Imagine if they can't get Ten Hag over the line because of what's happening at the moment, and how bad a state the club are in.

"If you look at what Manchester United are doing to players, there isn't one who has grown. Look at what they did to Donny van de Beek. If you're Ten Hag, I think you're on the phone to Van de Beek. What's it like there, Donny? He's not saying anything good, is he?

"I suspect Ten Hag's demands aren't financial, they will be about control, recruitment, structure, youth. I suspect he wants to come in and make sure he's not exposed to what other managers have been exposed to in these last 10 years.

"That might be too much for Manchester United, and I suspect it may be difficult week or two for the club. I still think they will get it over the line, but the reports this morning were that Ten Hag was placing demands on the club that maybe go above and beyond. We shouldn't believe everything but, ordinarily, when things come out from credible sources we normally know.

"Ralf Rangnick came with an incredible reputation, but he's now starting to be wounded by what's happening around him and he looks weaker and vulnerable on the touchline due to the performances of players on the pitch, who have nothing to do with him."

Nemanja Vidic has urged Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick to drop Harry Maguire temporarily to allow the centre-back to regain his confidence.

Maguire joined from Leicester City for £80million in 2019 but has come under scrutiny during his time at Old Trafford, especially this season with United struggling.

Rangnick's side succumbed to a 1-0 Premier League loss at lowly Everton on Saturday, with Anthony Gordon's drive deflecting off Maguire and past David De Gea to leave the Red Devils six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

United look set to miss out on a Champions League spot and Rangnick's 47 per cent win rate is the worst of any Red Devils manager in Premier League history.

Maguire has taken plenty of criticism for such an underwhelming campaign and former United centre-back Vidic believes Rangnick must protect his defender.

"Every player has a problem with form at some time in his career," Vidic, who played for United between 2006 and 2014, told The Athletic. "I did and it's clear that Maguire is not at his best this season.

"I think you can do a few things and one of them is not to play every match as you try to find form again and get confidence.

"A coach could play him in easier games, not that there are many in the Premier League, and take him out for harder matches. The player needs to feel powerful and strong on the pitch again, not as it is now where he feels that it's not happening for him.

"It's difficult to play well when you're under so much pressure because people are waiting for you to make a mistake. You're asking me this and I'm replying as a coach."

Only De Gea (31) and Bruno Fernandes (29) have appeared more times for United in the league this season than Maguire (26).

The England international has also committed the joint-most errors leading to a goal for his side (one – level with De Gea and Luke Shaw) and the joint-most leading to a shot (three along with Jadon Sancho and Nemanja Matic).

Vidic insists that if Maguire requires some time off, Rangnick would grant his request with no questions asked.

"It's not a problem if a player says to his coach that he's not feeling great on the pitch," he added.

"If he says: 'Give me a break, give me a couple of weeks to regroup and train well and then play again'. I had some horrible games for United and needed to find my peace and grow again.”

David de Gea issued a damning assessment of Manchester United's quality and acknowledged it will be "very difficult" for them to finish in the top four. 

United succumbed to a surprise 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, with Anthony Gordon's deflected strike proving to be the difference. 

Ralf Rangnick has now triumphed in just eight of his first 17 Premier League games as the Red Devils' boss, giving him a win percentage of 47% – the worst of any manager the club has had in the competition. 

It was United's eighth defeat of the season – only the eighth time they have lost that many games in a single campaign but the sixth since 2012-13. 

They could find themselves six points adrift of the top four by the end of the weekend, with De Gea admitting they lack the requisite quality to qualify for next season's Champions League. 

"We knew before today they were struggling and how difficult it was going to be," De Gea told BT Sport. 

"We don't score, we don't even create proper chances to score. I don't know what to say, to be honest. We're not good enough, that's for sure. It's going to be very difficult now to be in the top four. 

"Of course, it's not the perfect atmosphere. They were tired, they were nervous, but they keep going and keep fighting. They had more desire than us, which is not acceptable. It's very sad to lose today." 

Rangnick will move into a consulting role at Old Trafford at the conclusion of the season, with Ajax boss Erik ten Hag reported to be the frontrunner to take over. 

Mauricio Pochettino has also been linked with the role, but Rangnick does not believe the uncertainty can be used to excuse a dismal run of one win in seven in all competitions. 

"I don't think this should be an excuse. We are Manchester United. We have lots of international players. There shouldn't be an alibi," Rangnick said. 

"There will be a new manager next season. If this is announced now or in 10 days, it shouldn't have an impact." 

He added: "If you don't score a single goal in 95 minutes, we have to be disappointed. We had a good start and should have created more chances out of that domination. Then we concede a deflected shot and lost a bit of our composure. 

"The second half we were trying to add creativity with substitutions, but we didn't always take the right decision. 

"We had to do something. We needed a goal and we decided to bring on [Juan] Mata and more verticality with [Anthony] Elanga. 

"They were defending with their players in the last 35 minutes. We didn't find the right player at the right moment. We didn't have enough players in the box when we played crosses." 

Ralf Rangnick confirmed Cristiano Ronaldo will return against Everton on Saturday, while insisting Manchester United cannot afford to drop any more points in the top-four race.

United are languishing in seventh in the Premier League after limping to a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester City last Saturday, sitting three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who have played a game fewer.

Arsenal are level on points with their London rivals, having played two games fewer than United, whose 2021-22 hopes rely on Champions League qualification after failure in the cup competitions.

That has led to questions over the capabilities of Rangnick, the identity of his next permanent successor, and the future of numerous United stars, with Paul Pogba and Ronaldo both scrutinised.

The Portugal captain missed the Leicester game and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, joined by Wayne Rooney, labelled Ronaldo's return as a mistake.

The former Real Madrid man will hope to prove his doubters wrong when the Red Devils on Saturday head to Merseyside, where Rangnick reminded his team they cannot drop points if they want to qualify for UEFA's flagship club competition.

"Cristiano is back again. Luke [Shaw] is still injured. He will be out for the next two or three weeks," Rangnick told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"[Edinson] Cavani is still injured, [Raphael] Varane is still injured and the same is true with [Scott] McTominay I'm afraid."

Asked if the game was must win, he added: "That happens in football [big teams struggling], not only England but in other leagues. But for us again, it's about being aware about the current situation.

"We still have a chance to qualify for the Champions League, but in order to do that we need to win and we definitely need to win the game tomorrow.

"If you look at the current situation in the table, we can't afford to drop points anymore and I think everybody in the team and the squad is aware of that."

Rangnick has, even if unspectacularly, steadied the ship for United, with only Manchester City and Liverpool (one each) losing fewer Premier League games than United, who have been defeated just twice in 16 league games since the German's appointment in December.

United have won half of those top-flight games but Rangnick knows he must strike a balance between attack and defence in the coming weeks if his side are to compete.

"It's got to do with the kind of players we have available. As you know, we have quite a few strikers missing in the last couple of weeks and months," he continued on the make-up of his team.

"In the game against Leicester, on top of that, we had Ronaldo not available, that's one reason. The other reason is the focus. In the first couple of weeks, we put our focus on being more stable defensively and conceding not that many goals, which we did.

"At one stage, we also found out then that we needed a plan out of possession of the ball to create chances ourselves. Right now, it's about getting both parts together."

While Rangnick called on his side to construct a complete performance, he acknowledged he was pleased with some developments, but now he wants to see consistency.

"I was not surprised. I knew that from the start," Rangnick said of the quality at United. "When you see the whole process over the last four and a half months, I think we have developed the team in some areas, but as you've said, it's all about being consistent and consistency.

"This is what we have to start. We have to start tomorrow with the best possible performance."

Ajax's Erik ten Hag has reportedly agreed to talks with United to become their next permanent manager, with Paris Saint-Germain's Mauricio Pochettino also linked, but Rangnick refused to provide any insight on the next appointment as he looked ahead to his consultancy role when his short-term contract expires at the end of the season.

"From what I know, all the managers with whom the club have so far spoken are top managers, top coaches," he added. "If this includes Erik ten Hag, then it's also true with him. That's all I can say at this stage.

"As you know, we have agreed upon a consultancy contract as an advisor and we will speak about that in the next couple of weeks I'm pretty sure – at the latest, the end of the season. But again, my focus is on tomorrow."

Wayne Rooney believes Mauricio Pochettino is the right manager to rebuild Manchester United, who he says have no chance of competing in the Champions League.

Ralf Rangnick's side limped to a 1-1 draw to Leicester City on Saturday, leaving them three points behind the Premier League's top-four but that could extend to six if Arsenal beat Crystal Palace on Monday.

Tottenham have also played a game fewer than United, whose season relies on securing Champions League football after disappointing in other competitions.

Indeed, United were eliminated in UEFA's flagship competition at the last-16 stage by Atletico Madrid and were unable to yield any returns in the domestic trophies, the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

United parted ways with club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer late in November and brought in Rangnick on a short-term contract, though neither have achieved success during what Rooney described as an unusual season.

Central to the reparation job at Old Trafford is their next permanent managerial appointment, with Ajax's Erik ten Hag and Paris Saint-Germain's Pochettino reportedly the frontrunners to take charge.

United great Rooney believes Pochettino has the credentials to deliver success, despite reports that Ten Hag has been offered the role.

"I think Pochettino has done it, he knows the Premier League and at Tottenham, and Southampton, he brought a lot of young players through," the Derby County boss told Sky Sports.

"So, if I'm choosing from one of them two then I'm going with Pochettino and giving him time. I think managers need time to come in and put their print on the club, the team and if you give him time I think he'll do well.

"Pochettino is a top-class manager and he knows how to work with young players and you need to get that blend right as they can't afford to fail again."

Asked to describe United's campaign, Rooney responded: "Strange. I've been to watch them live and it looks like a team of individuals and one of them always seem to make a mistake, then it's very difficult to recover as a team.

"So, you have to look at it and say it hasn't been good enough, with that group of players they have to perform better and they're going through a tough time as a club.

"I think what everyone wants is to get the manager situation sorted then they can rebuild over the next two, three years and start challenging again."

Rangnick has previously stated United will need two or three transfer windows to rebuild, and Rooney agrees that his former side are in dire need of change.

"For Manchester United not to be challenging, I think they'd want this season to stop now if it could and forget about the Champions League because they're not going to compete next year if they qualify," he added.

"They have to rebuild; the squad, everything around the first team, throughout the club to put themselves in the position in two or three years' time that they can actually go and challenge to win the Premier League."

Ralf Rangnick says it is down to Marcus Rashford to regain his form and confidence in order to nail down a place in Manchester United's starting line-up.

Rashford was named on the bench for Saturday's 1-1 draw with Leicester City, despite United being without the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani.

United boss Rangnick instead elected to field midfielders Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba up top, before introducing Rashford in the 55th minute.

England international Rashford, who was not part of the Three Lions' squad for their March friendlies, made little impact during his time on the field as he failed to register a shot.

Former United defender Rio Ferdinand questioned whether the academy product will still be at Old Trafford next season given his lack of playing time.

However, Rangnick believes Rashford can turn things around as long as he bears responsibility for his drop in form.

"Marcus, it's no secret that he is not having his best time right now," said Rangnick, who is not expected to stay on as interim manager beyond this campaign.

"It has to do with rhythm and confidence; it's our job to help him to get this confidence back.

"The only thing we can do is speak to him regularly and tell him what we expect from him and what he should do. The rest has to be done by himself.

"It is possible to develop within a couple of weeks a level of confidence where you can be a different player again.

"We all know that Marcus can play better, but in the end he has to take the steps himself."

Rashford has started just 15 games in all competitions this season, which is level with Alex Telles for the joint-15th most among United players.

He has five goals and two assists, averaging 0.45 goal involvements every 90 minutes.

That places him behind team-mates Cavani (0.48), Pogba (0.54), Fernandes (0.63), Jesse Lingard (0.69) and Ronaldo (0.71).

The 24-year-old will be looking to regain his place in the starting line-up when United take on Everton in their next Premier League outing on Saturday.

Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand questioned Marcus Rashford's future with the Red Devils after the forward was only a substitute against Leicester City.

Ralf Rangnick's side, who were without Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani, limped to a 1-1 draw on Sunday with Fred cancelling out Kelechi Iheanacho's opener at Old Trafford.

Rashford was named on the bench despite the absence of the United attacking pair, with midfielders Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba preferred up top before the England international was introduced in the 55th minute.

The 24-year-old offered little after coming on, failing to register a single shot in his 35-minute cameo, winning none of his three duels and managing just 14 touches for the underwhelming hosts.

Indeed, Rashford has started just five Premier League games since Rangnick's arrival in December, racking up a meagre 564 minutes from the 12 top-flight appearances he has made under the German.

Rangnick justified his decision after the game as he cited a lack of confidence for Rashford, who has scored a league-high four goals from the bench, but Ferdinand questioned the reluctance to trust the striker.

"What Rashford must be thinking now – wow," Ferdinnd said on his YouTube channel FIVE. "Maybe there's a new contract negotiation behind the scenes but if you're him, you're thinking, 'How can I stay here?'.

"You're thinking, 'This gaffer does not fancy me. How can I sign this contract when the team would rather play without a striker than play with me?'.

"I'm not saying he's been perfect. If I'm Rashford, I'm thinking this guy doesn't rate me if he's going to play two midfielders up front.

"He hasn't played well enough to be selected if Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani are fit. It's a different case when he's going into a game with no striker.

"How bad must he be in training? How badly must he rate him to go into a game like that?"

United dropped further ground in the race for Champions League qualification, currently sitting three points adrift of fourth place, with the Red Devils' next clash coming at strugglers Everton on Saturday.

Gary Neville said being left out of a depleted Manchester United attack will have "killed" Marcus Rashford after the Red Devils laboured to a 1-1 draw with Leicester City.

Despite Ralf Rangnick's side being without Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani through illness and injury, Rashford remained on the bench for the first 55 minutes as United's top-four hopes were dented by the Foxes.

Rashford has recorded just four goals and two assists during a frustrating Premier League campaign, making half of his 20 league appearances from the bench.

Indeed, all four of the 24-year-old's league goals this season have come from the bench, a league-high tally, and Rashford was left out of Gareth Southgate's latest England squad as a result of his poor form.

Acknowledging Rashford's recent slump, Neville questioned what being left out of such a depleted Red Devils team said for the striker's role at the club, during a stark assessment of United's display.

"I was struggling with it [the system] before the game, without a centre-forward," Neville told Sky Sports.

"That's killed Marcus Rashford, not playing in that team.

"I know he's been in poor form, I know he's lacked confidence, but for Cristiano Ronaldo to pull out this morning, and then for Paul Pogba to be put in to change the system, not to just put Marcus Rashford in as a straight swap, after he's trained with the players for the last 10 days.

"Overall, there are too many things at this club that are uncertain: talks about Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cavani, the new manager, Ralf Rangnick – is he going to be a consultant at the end of the season, or is he not?

"They just need to get to the end of the season, but it isn't going to be easy. Everybody's watching, it's Manchester United and there's no hiding place. It was so flat today."

The interim boss, however, defended his decision to bench Rashford, who did not take a shot after entering the fray as a substitute, and said his selection of Pogba in a more advanced role was a tactical choice.

"The only one [striker] we had was Marcus," Rangnick told Sky Sports. "We knew this morning Cristiano could not play and decided to start Paul Pogba.

"After 60 minutes we made the change and had a central striker on the pitch. It's no secret that he [Rashford] was not full of confidence in the last couple of weeks.

"He was training with us, and in training he is looking well. That was the question yesterday, between Paul and Marcus, and we decided to go with Paul."

United have won just one of their last six matches in all competitions, recording three draws and two defeats during that run, having won four and drawn three of their previous seven.

Ralf Rangnick labelled Harry Maguire's performance in Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Leicester City "flawless" after the defender was booed while playing for England, as Bruno Fernandes suggested the media were partly responsible.

Interim United manager Rangnick also praised the reception given to Maguire by the Old Trafford faithful, with the 29-year-old having been booed during England's friendly against Ivory Coast on Tuesday.

Maguire has attracted criticism for his displays in a United defence that has kept just seven Premier League clean sheets this season, a tally worse than nine other top-flight sides.

Rangnick, however, was impressed with Maguire's solid display against his former team on Saturday.

"The reaction of our supporters [to Maguire] was as it always is," Rangnick told Sky Sports.

"They are one of the best [fanbases], if not the best, in England. 

"Harry played well, he had a flawless game today both defensively and offensively. It was a solid performance from him."

Midfielder Fernandes came to his team-mate's defence, claiming the media's coverage of Maguire's displays could have contributed to the jeers heard at Wembley.

"It's tough that your own country boos you in a game for the national team," Fernandes told Sky Sports. "It's maybe because of the media. 

"It wasn't because of his performance, he played really well in that game. Sometimes the media should think a little bit more when they do things."

Maguire's display may have been perfect in the eyes of Rangnick, but it did not help United claim three much-needed points against Leicester.

Kelechi Iheanacho opened the scoring for the visitors before Fred equalised, though VAR spared United's blushes when James Maddison had a goal disallowed in a game that ultimately finished 1-1.

United have won just one of their last six games in all competitions and are three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal having played two games more.

Rangnick's team are also winless in their last four league meetings with Leicester, having won seven of the previous eight.

Though their chances of securing Champions League qualification look slim, with West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham all still to play, Rangnick has pledged to fight hard.

"The second half was the better one," he said. "I think for most of the first half we were struggling to find our rhythm, maybe because of the long [international] break.

"The second half was better, but giving a goal away on a transitional moment didn't make it easy.

"I think the reaction after the goal we conceded was good, we came back and scored a goal, then had two or three good moments where we could have scored the winning goal, but we didn't.

"In the end we are not happy with the result, but the second half was okay.

"As long as it [fourth place] is possible mathematically, it is possible. It is our job and duty to do our best to finish on the best possible note."

Cristiano Ronaldo was not part of Manchester United's squad for Saturday's Premier League home game with Leicester City due to illness.

The 37-year-old played both World Cup qualifying play-off games for Portugal during the international break, but he was struck down by flu on Friday and was not ready to face City.

Ronaldo has scored 18 goals in all competitions since returning to United in August, with 12 of those in the Premier League, including a hat-trick against Tottenham in his most recent outing in the competition.

Confirming the reason behind Ronaldo's absence, Rangnick told MUTV pre-match: "He had some flu-like symptoms before training yesterday and didn't feel well enough to train.

"We sent our doctor to his home this morning to check if he felt any better, but he didn't, so he's not in the starting XI as he was supposed to be."

Prior to the visit of Leicester, United had failed to win any of the five top-flight matches they had started without Ronaldo since the five-time Ballon d'Or winner rejoined.

Despite the absence of Ronaldo, and with Edinson Cavani again being ruled out through injury, Marcus Rashford had to settle for a place among the substitutes.

Rangnick instead went with the same system and side that started last month's 4-1 loss to Manchester City when Ronaldo was last absent.

Captain Harry Maguire, jeered by a section of England supporters during a friendly in midweek, retained his place in defence.

As for Leicester, who had won their past three games against United in all competitions, they paired Wesley Fofana and former Red Devils man Jonny Evans together in defence for the first time this season.

Ralf Rangnick has responded to Louis van Gaal's criticism of Manchester United as a "commercial club", claiming football as a whole "is a commercialised business".

Former United manager Van Gaal this week warned Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, a candidate for the top job at Old Trafford, against joining the club.

"Man United is a commercial club," said Van Gaal, adding: "He should choose a football club, not a commercial club."

But Ten Hag subsequently described United as "a great club with great fans" – an assessment more in line with Rangnick's thoughts.

The interim boss, who will step aside at the end of the season, responded on Friday to Van Gaal's suggestion United were any different from their rivals in their approach.

"Louis himself as an experienced coach signed a contract here some five or six years ago, and he could have known that in advance if he had that opinion," Rangnick said.

"I think football worldwide and even more so in the English Premier League – when any rich person or company can buy a club, as long as they pass the fit and proper person test – is a commercialised business, that's for sure. No matter which club in which city.

"What I can only tell you from the last four months is that this is a club with a big tradition with a close relationship with the supporters and to the whole city, region and area.

"For me, it's a great club, and if the club draws the right conclusions on what's happened in the last couple of years... Yes, the last couple of years have not been as good as expected, but if they draw the right conclusions, I still see a very bright future for this club."

Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani will miss a "couple of weeks" with the injury he suffered on Uruguay duty, Ralf Rangnick has confirmed.

Cavani was substituted during a 2-0 win over Chile during the international break, as Uruguay cemented third place in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers after a run of four successive wins.

In a pre-match media conference looking ahead to Saturday's Premier League clash with Leicester City, Rangnick confirmed the news while discussing the various positions in which Paul Pogba has been deployed in recent weeks.

"Since the game against West Ham on January 22, we have lost three strikers," the interim Red Devils boss said.

"Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and even Edinson Cavani, who is injured again, unfortunately, and will be out for the next couple of weeks."

Cavani has managed just two Premier League goals during a frustrating campaign, seeing 614 minutes of league action all season.

Manchester United have lost two of their last three games in all competitions (winning the other). They had lost just one of their previous 20 following Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's November dismissal, recording 10 wins and nine draws in that time.

Ralf Rangnick is confident Harry Maguire will not face abuse from Manchester United after he was jeered while on international duty with England.

Maguire's name was booed ahead of England's 3-0 friendly win over Ivory Coast on Tuesday, a reaction that was widely criticised by Gareth Southgate and his Three Lions players.

Southgate described the response at Wembley as "an absolute joke", while Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson, Jack Grealish and Declan Rice all came out in defence of Maguire.

Given the centre-back has played a key role in England's runs to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and Euro 2020 final, the vocal criticism appeared to relate more to his club form.

Maguire, who is the United captain, has come under scrutiny in a tough season at Old Trafford.

However, interim United manager Rangnick does not expect he will experience a similar reaction from his home fans at club level.

Asked if he had yet spoken to Maguire about the incident, Rangnick replied: "Not yet, but I speak regularly since I'm here, so he knows my position towards him.

"He's been a very valuable player for the team and the club, the captain.

"I didn't understand what happened at Wembley, it won't happen in our stadium with the Red Army behind the team and our captain. He's been playing well for Manchester United and England in the last couple of years.

"Gareth Southgate said something after the game and Harry Kane. I didn't watch the game, but I heard what had happened after they announced the starting line-up. It's difficult to understand.

"I don't speak to them in person, but I'm pretty sure it won't happen in our stadium. For it to happen in an international game is pretty unusual."

Rangnick was then asked if he could explain why Maguire in particular received such criticism for his United displays.

"I don't think this is a personal thing," he responded. "It hasn't anything to do with Harry himself.

"We know there are one or two players who have been criticised in the last few months. For example, Fred, a very important player for this team, playing regularly for the team and Brazil. I watched his game and he did well.

"Maybe it's still got to do with the high expectations around this club and maybe people tend to compare with former players and legends.

"Fred, we can also speak about Scotty [McTominay] and Harry, they are important players and players with the right attitude."

While Rangnick reserved plenty of time ahead of Saturday's game against Leicester City to discuss how Maguire and Fred fared during the international break, he was less interested by a Paul Pogba interview during his time with France in which he described this as another "dead" season at United.

"I've got enough to do now to prepare the team for the next game," Rangnick said. "Tomorrow's game is another important one, and I don't think it makes sense to interpret or just judge what he has maybe said in an interview, it doesn't make sense.

"That's something you can do if you want. For me, it's only important to judge him."

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