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Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick addresses Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani issues amid Roy Keane claim

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Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick insists he has no reason to dispute the cause behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence for the 4-1 thrashing by City and insisted it would be unhelpful to be ‘frustrated’ by the continued absence of Edinson Cavani.

Ronaldo, 37, was driven home from training on Friday due to an issue with his hip flexor that ruled him out for two games against Aston Villa in January and did not train on Saturday.

Cavani, 35, has missed the last six games with a groin problem but had been declared fit by Rangnick on Friday. Cavani played one game in nine at the same stage last season, when the Manchester Evening News first revealed United’s frustration at Cavani’s tendency to declare himself unfit for games.

United great Roy Keane suggested before kick-off ‘there seems to be more to the Ronaldo story when a manager comes out and talks about a hip flexor’ and his absence ‘doesn’t add up’.

“I have to believe my medical department,” Rangnick said. “Our doctor came to see me Friday morning before training and told me that Cristiano could not train because of some problems with his hip flexor and the same was true on Saturday and that’s why he couldn’t be a part of the squad.

When asked about the infamously brittle Cavani, Rangnick replied: “What does it help if I tell you it is frustrating? It is just a fact. If players tell the doctor and the medical department they are injured and cannot play I have to accept it. I cannot force a player to play if he’s not available because of an injury.

“Edi trained in the last three days, he trained well but he still felt after those three training sessions yesterday afternoon that he is still not fit to play. This is a fact. As a manager, I cannot force a player if he does not feel fit enough or well enough to play.

“We have to be – and I am – happy with the players we have. This is clear. We lost two, if not three strikers since Christmas, everybody knows. But this is a fact and we have to deal with it. I am not complaining about that.”

United performed respectably in an even first-half at City, equalising through Jadon Sancho only to concede to Kevin de Bruyne again and trail 2-1 at the pause. Their second-half performance was so unrecognisable United had eight per cent possession in the last 15 minutes of the game as a contest descened into an exhibition match.

“We played a good first-half but we were still 2-1 down,” Rangnick noted, “so it was clear in the second-half we still had to try and score one or two goals to have a chance to win the game. We didn’t.

“In the second-half, it was difficult for us to keep them away from our own goal so we then decided to bring on Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, two offensive players, one of the few offensive players we had available today.

And then they scored a brilliant goal from a corner, it’s difficult to defend that one, and from then on it was a very difficult and frustrating game for us because if you chase them high up the pitch in their half you risk conceding one, two, if not three goals.”

Keane described United’s performance as ‘shameful’ while Gary Neville, on co-commentary, remarked United ‘have given up’.

“To be honest, I didn’t have the impression that they didn’t try,” Rangnick opined, “but it is difficult against a team like Man City when you are 3-1 down against the best team in possession of the ball on the planet, it’s difficult. I cannot blame anyone for not having tried in that game but it was difficult after the third goal”

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Very Close: Top Journalist gives exciting Arsenal transfer updates

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Arsenal are “really close” to striking a deal with Shakhtar Donetsk in a bid to add winger Mykhaylo Mudryk to Mikel Arteta’s squad at the Emirates this month, journalist Rudy Galetti has told GiveMeSport.

The Gunners have now submitted a third offer for the wide man, after seeing two bids worth £52m and £62m rejected.

Arsenal transfer news – Mykhaylo Mudryk

According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Arsenal have submitted a bid worth £62m plus add-ons in a third attempt to bring Mudryk to the Emirates during the January transfer window.

With the north London side having seen their first two offers turned down and fellow Premier League side Chelsea showing an interest, the league leaders have had no choice but to move to try and get a deal over the line as quickly as possible.

Before Arsenal’s latest offer, Romano had told GiveMeSport that the Gunners were still negotiating with Shakhtar but a deal was not imminent.

However, Galetti believes that the Gunners’ latest bid, which is rumoured to be worth around £79m including add-ons, may see a move completed “in the next few days.”

What has Galetti said about Arsenal and Mudryk?

Galetti told GiveMeSport: “We know that at the beginning, Shakhtar valuated Mudryk at around £90m as confirmed by vice director Nicolini.

“He said that Mudryk is better than Antony in their evaluation. We know that Manchester United paid about £86m for Antony.

“This was the previous valuation, but now Arsenal and Shakhtar are really close to reaching an agreement for a little bit less, worth around £75m and £79m as the overall package. In the next few days, this could probably be a done deal.”

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