Ralf Rangnick’s Man Utd plans wrecked as Red Devils dealt Champions League blow

Man Utd v Brentford postponed due to COVID

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Ralf Rangnick’s attempts to put Manchester United back on the path to success have taken a major blow due to the club’s coronavirus outbreak, according to reports. The Red Devils have had their last two games cancelled due to positive tests in their camp.

United’s Premier League clash with Brentford on December 14 was called off. Rangnick is widely believed to have only had nine first-team players available when positive COVID-19 cases and injuries were taken into account.  

That number was reduced to just seven players at the weekend, prompting the visit to Brighton to be postponed.  

United’s Carrington training ground has been shut for over a week in an attempt to get the situation under control.  

But that has come at a huge cost to interim boss Rangnick as he tries to haul the club back on track following a poor start to the season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.  

The former RB Leipzig tactician was appointed on November 29 but has had very little time to put his ideas in place. 

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He watched from the stands as a Cristiano Ronaldo brace helped his side overcome Arsenal 3-2 in Michael Carrick’s final game in charge.  

Rangnick’s first game was the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace and he has overseen two more matches – the 1-1 Champions League draw with Young Boys and the narrow victory by a solitary goal against Norwich.  

According to the Sun, Rangnick had long viewed this week as the perfect week to spend plenty of time on the training ground. The only fixtures taking place before Christmas are the League Cup quarter-final ties, a competition from which United were eliminated in the third round. 

That would have given the German a rare blank week without a game. It might have been a chance to lay the foundations for an assault on the Champions League spots, with United trailing fourth-placed Arsenal by five points. 

But those plans have been put into disarray as Carrington has remained shut while the club eases its COVID-19 issues.  

Rangnick is set to lead his side out against Newcastle on December 27 giving them six days to improve the situation and prepare for the game. 

United’s two postponed fixtures were among 10 to have been pushed back in the last 10 days due to the virus.  

Premier League clubs held a meeting on Monday and the league intends for all games that can go ahead to be played in order to avoid a pile-up of rearranged matches.  

The league also confirmed that 92 per cent of its club’s players and staff have received at one, two or three doses of their vaccination against Covid. 

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A statement read: “It was confirmed at a Premier League club meeting [on Monday] that while recognising a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and challenges, it is the league’s collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible.

“The health and wellbeing of all concerned remains our priority and the League will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution.” 

It added: “The League continues to work with clubs to encourage vaccination among players and club staff, as well as promoting the Government’s public-health vaccination messaging to clubs and the wider public.

“No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League, and player vaccination rates will now be publicly communicated at the end of each month, beginning in January.”
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