Marcus Rashford is among a group of Manchester United players dissatisfied with life at Old Trafford under interim manager Ralf Rangnick, 90min understands.
Rangnick was appointed as the temporary successor to former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, and was given the order to run the rule over a large squad of players underperforming for the duration of the season to the point of his arrival. Under him, on-field stability was desired and the target of a top four finish set.
While United are only three points off the top four as it stands, they are seventh in the Premier League table and looking as disjointed and directionless as ever – luckily escaping their last outing with a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester City.
The German has, despite an early uplift, struggled to influence the squad in terms of playing style and results and the prospect of Champions League qualification is a diminishing hope – with rival teams in better form.
Rashford, as has been a continued trend under Rangnick, did not feature from the start in the game with Leicester, only managing just over 30 minutes as a substitute, and has only started one of United’s last six Premier League games even in the absence of other striking options. The 24-year-old has also lost his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad in a World Cup year.
As a result, Rashford is considering his options and is at a crossroads in his career. Newcastle United are among the teams monitoring his situation and would consider a marquee signing ahead of the new season following significant new investment – with Rashford a candidate to fit the bill.
Sources have indicated to 90min that Rashford would like to stay at Old Trafford, but his decision may hinge on the planned continuation of the relationship with Rangnick – who is due to move into a consultancy role with the club for two years at the end of the coming season.
Doubt has been cast over the influence Rangnick will hold when that time comes. Football director John Murtough still values Rangnick’s opinion but underwhelming results and the lack of reaction from the current squad has weakened Rangnick’s hand.
He has labelled himself “the wrong person to ask” in relation to their choice on the next manager, with Murtough and Darren Fletcher instead taking the lead discussing with candidates. Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino are still the main front-runners, with a conclusion on the identity of the next boss hoped for internally this month.
While not necessarily as influential as initially hoped, Rangnick has continued to push Ajax manager Ten Hag as the ideal candidate to succeed him in the United hot-seat. He impressed United during the first round of talks and former United assistant manager Steve McClaren has been consulted for a reference on him, which was understood to be positive.
Though Ten Hag is known to have both fans and detractors in the club’s hierarchy and within the squad.
Rangnick’s choice for the role being Ten Hag, and now obvious lack of belief in Rangnick from a number of the players, has caused doubt among them that the 52-year-old is the right choice, in line with reports from elsewhere of a dressing room split over the Dutchman’s appointment. It’s believed those not impressed by Rangnick do not understand why or how his opinion on larger club matters could hold so much sway within the club.
Ten Hag’s potential appointment may end up strengthening Rangnick’s future position and influence, though could trigger an exodus of some previously valuable playing assets – Rashford among them – while Paul Pogba is currently expected to leave at the end of his deal with strong interest from old club Juventus.
The other main candidate, Mauricio Pochettino, is understood to remain the players’ choice, and poses United a smoother option to move forward with; with less upheaval required of the current playing staff.