Every word from Ralf's presser
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick fielded questions from journalists ahead of the club's Thursday home Premier League game against Chelsea.
The German coach gave an update on several injuries to key players in the Reds squad, offered his thoughts on keeping morale high in the dressing room amid a run of bad form, and looked ahead to Thursday's home match against Chelsea.
Read every word below...
Part one: Ralf's press conference v Chelsea
Watch the first half of Ralf's latest press conference, to preview our Premier League match against Chelsea...
Hi there, Ralf. I'm just wondering about your objectives for the Chelsea game and the end of the season...
"Yeah, we have four more games to play, the next two games are at home at Old Trafford and obviously we will try to get as many points and win as many games as we possibly can out of those last four games, and, yeah, in order to do that we need to play on the best level that we possibly can. We know that Chelsea is a good team but we know that if we play well it's possible to win the game tomorrow."
Are there any Champions League hopes lingering?
"I don't think it makes sense now to still speak or speculate about the Champions League. We need to be realistic. Even if we win all four games, it's still not in our own hands, but what is in our own hands is the way that we play, the level of our performance, and even for next season, I think it's important to finish this season on the best possible note."
Is Cavani fit and if not, is he likely to play again?
"Well, he should be back in training or Friday, so the day after the Chelsea game, according to the team doctor, he will be back in training, and then we will have to see. He has been out for quite some time now, but according to our team doctor he should be back in training on Friday."
Would that mean you play people like Garnacho? I know he's been on the bench, but would you actually give him a game, in terms of looking forward, and other young players who maybe have been doing well for the youth team?
"Well, it's possible. We have quite a few players missing tomorrow, and one or two still with question marks, so we will have to wait and see until tomorrow to see if, for example, Aaron Wan-Bissaka can be available. I already played Hannibal at Liverpool, so it's possible, but we also have to be fair enough to those players. It has to be the right moment and they should have a chance to play well and to perform well so it's not just pushing them into a game. I think it should also be the right moment."
Who is unavailable and how is Fred progressing?
"Fred is unfortunately not yet available. He tried to train yesterday but after training I had a long conversation with him and he just told me that he doesn't feel fully fit, he's not at 100 per cent, and with a player like Fred who's always committed to give his very best, I don't think it makes sense with the muscular injury that he had, to play him too early, because that would mean we that take the risk of a re-injury and this is something that I don't want to do. So he won't be available unfortunately tomorrow. And apart from that we have Harry Maguire, who is not available, he has some issues with his knee, not a big thing, some niggle in his knee. He hasn't been training neither yesterday or today, Paul obviously, Fred, Edinson, Luke Shaw and Jadon – Jadon is ill, he has tonsillitis since yesterday, couldn't train today and will also be not available tomorrow."
I was going to ask if there comes a point when the players that are going to be out of contract, that you don't play them to focus on the future. But I guess that's not possible given you have quite a few absentees, or is that in mind in the games to come?
"No, we will play the best possible team of those players that are available. Right now it seems that we have 14 of our own professional team without the youngsters that are available, and probably three or four of those young players will be part of the squad."
Ralf, you've had a difficult couple of weeks, a lot of uncertainty. What's morale like?
"Well, obviously, if results are not going well, and we lost three of the last four games, this always means that the morale or the energy in the locker room is not as good as it would be if we had won those four games. But still we have to perform. This is what we are getting paid for. This is also important for the players... they also now knowing who the new manager will be. They have to perform and to show in front of again 75,000 tomorrow that we are able to beat a team like Chelsea. This is our job, this is what everybody has to do and this is what we are working at for the whole week in preparation for the game."
How big is the concern with European football? Getting into the Champions League would make recruitment easier. Without that, how difficult a problem do you face in the summer?
"Well, of course it would be better if we played Champions League next season, but this also affects other clubs. This is not a problem that only Manchester United has, [and] the renewal of the contract of Bruno showed that it's still possible. This club is an attractive club and with a new manager, a new approach and the way he wants to play, this is still a massively interesting club, and I'm looking forward to helping Erik [ten Hag] and everybody at the club to get the best and change the whole approach next season so that Man United can be a top club again."