CRISTIANO RONALDO was absent from Manchester United’s squad to face Leicester as they checked into the Lowry Hotel on Friday.
Meanwhile Eric ten Hag has confirmed that he has held talks with the Red Devils over the possibility of taking over at Old Trafford.
And United are reportedly keen to keep Paul Pogba this summer.
On the international front, former Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal’s Holland will feature in the opening World Cup match against Senegal.
But Van Gaal has admitted he doesn’t know anything about his team’s World Cup opponents – Senegal, Qatar and Ecuador.
He said: “I don’t know if this is a nice draw, I don’t know much about these countries,” he admitted.
“I have been in Senegal on holiday two years ago, I have never been in Ecuador, I have never seen Qatar play.”
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Neville questions Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick failure to include a recognised striker for Manchester United against Leicester has bemused Old Trafford legend Gary Neville.
And Nev doubts whether Bruno Fernandes has the attributes to fill in as a ‘false nine’ – as it ‘just didn’t work’ against Man City’.
With Cristiano Ronaldo out ill, starlet Anthony Elanga began as the only ‘frontman’ in United’s line-up for Saturday’s crucial Premier League home clash with the Foxes.
Midfielder Fernandes and wideman Jadon Sancho were the only other main attacking outlets.
And Nev told Sky Sports: “I’m not sure that Bruno is that type of player at all.
“He’s more of a passer, he’s not a runner and we saw against Man City away it just didn’t work, so I’ll be interested to see how it goes.”
Harry Maguire was cheered as Manchester United fans rallied behind their captain.
The United skipper received a positive reaction from home supporters before his former club Leicester visited Old Trafford.
It comes on the same week Maguire was booed by England fans before Ivory Coast were beaten 3-0 at Wembley.
His manager Ralf Rangnick had tried to urge the United faithful to get behind their captain – and it appears his words were listened to.
Rangnick said: “Harry has been a very valuable player for the team and the club as the captain.
“I didn’t understand what happened at Wembley, it won’t happen in our stadium with the Red Army.
“He’s been playing well for Manchester United and England in the last couple of years.
“For it to happen in an international game is unusual but I’m sure it won’t happen in our stadium.”
Minutes till kick off
Manchester United are just moments from kicking off against Leicester City.
A win would be crucial for keeping up the pace for a top four finish and challenging Arsenal and Spurs.
But they will have to do it WITHOUT Cristiano Ronaldo.
You can keep up with all the action in our blog.
Paul Merson has slammed Manchester United for giving “moaning” Bruno Fernandes a new deal.
On Friday the Red Devils announced that the midfielder had penned a new five-year deal to stay at the club.
They have also doubled his wages to £240,000 per-week.
Former Arsenal man Merson was quick to react to the news, labelling it as “strange” due to the fact that Man Utd have not appointed a new manager yet.
He has since doubled down on his criticism, arguing that the club did it “off-the-cuff” and blasted the star for his “moaning”.
When speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, Merson said: “I’m flabbergasted if I’m being honest.
“You give him a four-year contract extension, more money, whatever it may be.
“A manager comes in, he might not like (Bruno) Fernandes.
“He might not like all the throwing the hands up, moaning at everybody when he doesn’t get the ball.”
Confirmation of the team to face Leicester City for Saturday evening’s kick off.
Harry Maguire captains the side after he was booed midweek by England fans.
Confirmation that Cristiano Ronaldo is missing in action for the Red Devils.
Today is Man Utd legend Teddy Sheringham’s 56th birthday.
The ex-Spurs striker famously scored the equaliser and provided an assist for the Red Devils miraculous Champions League win over Bayern Munich in 1999.
All in all, Teddy scored 46 times in 153 games for United during his career.
He also won the Premier League three times, as well as the FA Cup.
Bayern want Gravenberch
Bayern Munich have reportedly joined the race to sign Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax.
He has become a key transfer target for Manchester United, who are looking to add to their midfield ranks.
However, Bayern Munich are now determined to swoop in and place an offer.
According to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, Gravenberch has become a priority target for the Reds.
He took to Twitter to announce: “Bayern are really pushing on Ryan Gravenberch deal with Raiola as priority signing.
“Personal terms negotiation now well advanced, contract proposal ready – up to the clubs to complete the agreement.
“Bayern are on it – they hope to sign Ryan as soon as possible.”
Rangnick on United’s future
Ralf Rangnick has conceded that Manchester United need to spend in the summer transfer window in order to rebuild their squad.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “It’s obvious that something needs to be changed, something needs to be rebuilt in the summer.
“The team could do with some more highly-talented, hungry players who really want to develop their own careers.
“I don’t think it should be that much about signing big names. I wouldn’t mind big names!
Mike Dean’s fear of Keane
Mike Dean has revealed he was “nervous” to give decisions against the likes of Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira during the early stages of his refereeing career.
Speaking on BBC Sport, he said: “I got into the Premier League in 2000 when I was 31, 32, and you had massive, big personality players, the Keanes, people like that… Vieiras, they were all around then.
“For me to come from the Football League to the Premier League and reffing them players, having gone from reffing League One and League Two and the odd Championship game, to being in the Premier League, it was just a massive step and I was probably in awe of them as well, to be fair.
“[I was] probably a bit nervous and a bit scared of making a decision.”
Ten Hag price revealed
Man United can land Erik ten Hag for just £1.7million this summer, according to reports.
The Ajax boss is now the bookies’ favourite to take charge at Old Trafford next season, after impressing in his five years in Amsterdam.
This is under half the £4.2m that Borussia Dortmund paid for their previous boss Peter Bosz.
The report adds that United are “pulling” at Ten Hag – and that the Dutchman’s Ajax stay next season is “no longer a certainty”.
Merson on Fernandes
Paul Merson expressed his dismay at Bruno Fernandes getting a new contract at Man United.
Merson said: “I’m flabbergasted. You give him a four-year contract extension with more money, but a manager could come in and he might not like him.
He may not like the throwing the hands up in the air and moaning when not getting the ball. It might be Ten Hag who might want someone else.
Matic on United and Maguire
Nemanja Matic admits Manchester United have not been good enough this season but defended teammate Harry Maguire against England’s boo-boys.
He said: “Harry Maguire did not serve that. I think that he played very well for England at the last Euros. He did fantastic so I don’t understand them.
“We have to be honest and say almost every player has to do more, has to give more.
“We have to do better as a team here. There is no more excuse.
“The last nine games we need to win seven or eight.”
Van Gaal on World Cup group
Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal has admitted that he has never seen Qatar play in a competitive match.
Holland were placed into Group A alongside the World Cup hosts and will be the favourites to progress to the round-of-16.
Ecuador and Africa Cup of Nations winners Senegal were also drawn in the group, but Van Gaal is clearly not phased about who his side will face.
The ex-Man United boss said: “I don’t know if this is a nice draw, I don’t know much about these countries.
“I have been in Senegal on holiday two years ago, I have never been in Ecuador, I have never seen Qatar play.”
Rooney’s advice to Maguire
Wayne Rooney has told Harry Maguire the only way to get the England boo-boys off his back is to play good consistently.
Rooney said: “I don’t think any England fans are concerned about his form for United as long as he’s doing well for England,’ said Rooney.
“He has to play — I know Gareth’s said that if you’re not in good form, then you won’t play for your country.
“But Harry Kane wasn’t in good form earlier in the season and nobody booed him or questioned why he’s playing.
“It’s clear he’s not in the best form for Manchester United, I don’t think any of them are at United.”
Conte’s the key in race
Martin Keown reckons Antonio Conte’s experience will give Tottenham an advantage in the race for the fourth spot.
He told the Daily Mail: “In this feverish top-four fight, Tottenham will feel they have a real advantage over their rivals and that’s because of Antonio Conte and his record.
“In Conte they have a coach who has won titles for every major club he has managed – five in total with Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan – and knows what it takes to qualify for the Champions League.”
Rangnick on new subs rule
Ralf Rangnick has revealed that he’s in favour of the new five sub rule and wishes it was in play this season.
He said: “I would have loved to have it this season, for various reasons. It’s player care, to make sure in times like this you don’t have too many injuries.
“Even more so with the number of games that players have to play for the big clubs.”
Rangnick on Fred
Man United boss Ralf Ragnick has spoken on the value Fred provides for the team.
“For me, he is an extremely valuable player, a team player in the true sense, a player who puts in every effort that he has and would give his last drop of blood for the team.
“He’s also a player who can score goals and has those surprising elements in his game, little flick-ons, and he can be a technical player too.
“That combination makes him extremely valuable, and to reduce him to only a number six, a defensive midfield player, does not rate him highly enough. He can do a lot more than just defend.”
Fernandes on Keane and Scholes
Bruno Fernandes could not choose between Paul Scholes and Roy Keane – so included them both in his dream Manchester United midfield.
The Portuguese midfielder, 27, backed himself to fit perfectly alongside the two Old Trafford veterans.
Fernandes was asked who he preferred out of Keane and Scholes during a Q&A on the club website.
He said: “I think Roy Keane is an excellent player and he can give me a lot of cover in the back.
“To play side to side with Scholes would be fantastic.
Man United team news
Ralf Rangnick claimed he has just ONE injury concern ahead of the game against Leicester.
And Rangnick has revealed he has a fully-fit squad to pick from, aside from Edinson Cavani, in a major boost.
He said: “According to the doctor, [Cavani] will be out for a couple of weeks, four weeks, maybe even five weeks.
“That’s obviously bad news to have another striker missing out. Apart from that, all the others seem to be fit.”
Rangnick also revealed Fred and Telles would be available for the match after racing home from international duty with Brazil.
The German tactician said: “They flew back directly after the game.
“By today, they should have overcome any jet-lag problems and are available.”
Ronaldo’s champagne experience
Cristiano Ronaldo revealed he cried so much after winning the Euros that he had to break his booze ban and neck champagne because he was so dehydrated.
He told Diletta Leotta: “The title of European Champion with Portugal is the most important prize I have ever won.
“It was an incredible, unforgettable evening.
“I cried, I laughed, I suffered, I shouted, I got drunk.
“During that game, I cried so much that I was dehydrated.
“At the end of the game, during the celebrations, I drank a glass of champagne and immediately it went to my head.
“I never drink but that day was so special. The most important trophy ever.”
Ronaldo absent from matchday squad
Cristiano Ronaldo was nowhere to be seen as Manchester United’s squad checked in to The Lowry Hotel for their clash against Leicester.
Fernandes and fellow Portuguese ace Diogo Dalot were both spotted back at United’s Carrington training ground yesterday.
However, there was no sign of Ronaldo reporting for duty.
United then assembled at the Lowry hotel in Manchester ahead of the Premier League showdown with the Foxes.
But once again the forward was missing and could not be seen arriving along with the 21 other players that did.
Too many points dropped
Ralf Rangnick has explained why Man United have fallen behind in the race for the top four.
Rangnick told Sky Sports: “After Christmas we focused to make sure the team was creating enough chances but since then we have had games like the FA Cup game against Middlesbrough.
“The home game with Watford and a few other games where we didn’t score enough goals from the opportunities we created.
“That’s why we have dropped too many points, eight draws in total in the league, and too many moments where we were 1-0 or even 2-0 up – at Aston Villa – and then ended up drawing.”
Fernandes’ toughest opponents
Bruno Fernandes has revealed who the toughest player to mark has been in his career thus far.
Surprisingly, no Prem player made the list for the Man United ace.
Instead he announced that ex Barcelona star Andres Iniesta – or former AC Milan ace Andrea Pirlo gave him the biggest headache on the pitch.
In a Twitter Q&A, he said: “The toughest to mark was Andres Iniesta or Pirlo.”
Where it’s all gone wrong
Man United legend Paul Parker has blamed player power at his former club for getting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the sack.
He told the Daily Mail: “If players decide they don’t like the manager, they don’t play.
“They tell their agents and the agents run to the owners. And we’ve got owners listening to people who’ve seen something on social media.
“And players sitting there, looking at the manager going, ‘I know you’re not here for long because upstairs they don’t like you’.
“So when Man United have an interim management consultant in charge, what chance have you got?”
Rangnick tips England for World Cup
Man United boss Ralf Rangnick has tipped England to be amongst the favourites to lift the World Cup.
But he reckons the Three Lions could face stiff competition from rivals Germany.
Rangnick told United media: “It’s difficult to say. I think England has a top team, yeah, they are definitely a team who could play a vital role.
“I also think Germany, with Hansi Flick [in charge], are in a good position now again, but since the World Cup takes place in Qatar and even if they [may] have air conditioning in most of those stadiums.
“It’s a difficult constellation, playing in the winter, having a World Cup break in winter in the middle of the season. So this is a completely new experience for everybody.”