Rangnick reiterates Champions League target
Ralf Rangnick has stressed that Manchester United must use an empty midweek schedule as further motivation to climb the Premier League and qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
The Reds missed out on the latest European drama after being knocked out in the round of 16 by Atletico Madrid. Los Rojiblancos hosted Manchester City on Wednesday, with the English side prevailing after an intense encounter, and the night before, Real Madrid triumphed over Chelsea in a breathtaking tie at the Santiago Bernabeu.
United managed a draw at Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano in February, but were eliminated after losing at Old Trafford in the second leg.
Rangnick wants the players to use their quarter-final absence as motivation in the final seven games of the domestic campaign, with a place in next season's Champions League remaining the key incentive.
“For me, it’s rather painful and it hurts to see Atletico Madrid play against Manchester City,” the German coach admitted.
“We should have been there ourselves. In order to think and behave like that [to be determined to finish in the top four], the players don’t need to see the games on TV.
“I think everybody knows that those are the moments you play for and you want to play in the Champions League, especially at a club like Manchester United. It’s up to us to make that happen again.”
United are still in the race for a top-four berth, but dropped points in the 1-1 home draw with Leicester City and 2-0 away defeat to Everton make the challenge a very difficult one.
Victory against Norwich City in today’s 15:00 BST kick-off will be essential as a kickstart for the run-in.
“Mathematically it can happen, but it doesn’t help us at all if we speculate about that,” said Rangnick of the top four.
“It’s about us winning our own games, that’s the only thing we can influence and we can affect ourselves – our own performance and results. We need to make sure that we start winning games again.
“I said before the game against Leicester that we needed nine points out of next three games, so far we have one point out of six from Leicester and Everton. So there is no point speculating about whether it's possible or not. Yes, mathematically it might still be possible, but we have to start winning games and we need to do that on Saturday.”