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Ralf Rangnick refuses to focus on table as Man Utd’s top-four challenge stutters

Manchester United v Atletico Madrid – UEFA Champions League – Round of Sixteen – Second Leg – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Ralf Rangnick insisted scrutinising the Premier League table on a weekly basis is pointless even if he recognises Manchester United’s top-four hopes are unfavourable.

United were lacklustre in a 1-1 draw against Leicester, lacking a cutting edge with Cristiano Ronaldo sidelined due to illness, and only the video assistant referee’s intervention prevented a Foxes win.

Fred cancelled out Kelechi Iheanacho’s opener but Leicester thought they had retaken the lead when James Maddison slammed home, except a foul on Raphael Varane in the build-up saw the goal chalked off.

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The Red Devils are three points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, who have played two games fewer, but Rangnick believes fixating on the standings with seven weeks of the season remaining achieves nothing.

The United interim manager said: “For us, it’s my job and all of our jobs to finish this season on the highest and best possible note. Saying that does not necessarily mean finishing fourth.

“Dropping another two points hasn’t made the situation better at all. For us it’s about preparing for the next game again.

“It doesn’t help at all to look at the table every weekend and speculate and anticipate what might happen, how many points we might need. Right now we are not the favourites for sure for number four.

“But the season is not over, we still have another eight games to play and then it’s time to draw the right conclusions and take the right decisions for next season.”

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford (centre) had to be content with an appearance off the bench (Zac Goodwin/PA)

With Ronaldo out and Edinson Cavani injured, Rangnick peculiarly elected not to include Marcus Rashford in his starting XI and went into this fixture without a recognised centre forward.

Bruno Fernandes was deployed as a false nine while the returning Paul Pogba played higher up the pitch before Rashford got a belated introduction 10 minutes into the second half.

But Rangnick, who revealed unused substitute Jesse Lingard was vomiting before the fixture, revealed he used all of his available attacking options during the course of the game.

Rangnick said: “We had all the offensive players that we had available on the pitch at the end. It is as it is; we played against a good team, they were in good shape, they had won three out of four games.

“I cannot fault the team for not trying and putting in the effort. It was not the result we were trying to get.

“But we have just have to admit this was a fair result at the end. They deserved to get their point, we deserved to get a point. To win the game we were not for the whole game convincing enough.”

Manchester United v Leicester City – Premier League – Old Trafford

James Maddison thought he had scored a winner for Leicester, only to see the decision overturned (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Leicester went ahead after 63 minutes when Iheanacho stooped to meet Maddison’s cross and send a diving header beyond David de Gea, although United equalised moments later when Fred converted on the rebound after Kasper Schmeichel could only parry Bruno Fernandes’ low effort into the Brazilian’s path.

Maddison thought he had snatched a winner 10 minutes from time when he slammed in at De Gea’s near post following a lay-off from Iheanacho, who was penalised for catching Varane’s leg seconds beforehand.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said: “I think Varane’s used his experience, he’s obviously got a touch and went over. The disappointment for me was it didn’t lead directly to the goal.

“Harry (Maguire) is there and misses the challenge, the full-back misses the challenge and we end up scoring.

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“I’m really pleased with the performance and it shows you the level when we leave here disappointed not to have won the game.”

Leicester’s season has been blighted by injuries to key players, most of whom have now returned to action, and Rodgers thinks his side, sitting ninth in the table, are starting to turn a corner as they look to end their campaign on a high.

He added: “I’m really looking forward to this last part of the season, and if we can go on and make Europe again one way or the other it would be a great, great achievement for us this season with so many things that have gone against us.”

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