Ralf Rangnick has urged his Manchester United players to stick together in the wake of Mason Greenwood’s arrest on suspicion of raping, attacking and threatening to kill an 18-year-old student.
United confirmed on Thursday that Greenwood remains suspended despite being released on bail pending further investigations after spending three nights in a police cell.
The club have also stopped selling the 20-year-old England forward’s merchandise online and offered to exchange any shirts with his name on the back for free.
Ralf Rangnick said his team had to stick together in the wake of Mason Greenwood’s arrest
Police have bailed Mason Greenwood after arresting him on suspicion of rape, assault, sexual assault and threats to kill a young woman, 18
Rangnick spoke about the situation for the first time ahead of Friday night’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford, and admitted it has been a difficult experience.
‘To be honest, I didn’t speak that much with the players about what happened, but I’m pretty sure that they did,’ said United’s interim manager.
‘Obviously it was a topic within the team. They’re human beings and Mason was part of the group before we had our (winter) break.
‘Everybody would have wanted those things not to happen, but they did.
‘This is what it’s all about in life, not only in professional football, that you have to stay together and be united on that and still keep going.
Rangnick revealed Greenwood’s absence influenced the decision to keep Lingard (pictured)
‘It’s an unusual situation for everybody and nobody would want to experience that. It’s an ongoing process and we have to put our focus on tomorrow’s game and then Tuesday’s game at Burnley. This is all I can say.’
Rangnick admitted that Greenwood’s absence influenced United’s decision to keep Jesse Lingard at Old Trafford beyond the end of the January transfer window after allowing Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek and Amad Diallo to go out on loan.
‘It was two things,’ added the German. ‘One thing was obviously that we had a problem with Mason Greenwood and being without a player for the time being.
‘On the other hand, the club couldn’t find an agreement with any other club (for Lingard).’
Rangnick hopes that both Lingard and Paul Pogba will be motivated to play well and impress potential buyers before leaving as free agents at the end of the season.
The United boss confirmed that Pogba will return to the squad against Boro after a three-month injury absence, as revealed by MailOnline, and may even start.
Paul Pogba will return to the squad to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round
He expects Lingard (left) and Pogba (right) to play at their best level for the rest of the season
‘His (Lingard’s) situation is similar to Paul Pogba’s,’ said Rangnick. ‘It’s in his own interests to perform on the highest possible level in order to get as many clubs interested in him in the summer.
‘In a way I can understand he’s a little bit disappointed and that he would have wanted to leave. So now it’s up to him. The group is a little bit smaller now and if he shows up in training he has all the chances to get game time here.’
Edinson Cavani has been given permission to spend a few more days at home in Uruguay, while centre-backs Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly are unavailable due to illness and injury.