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Ralf Rangnick sends Brighton message for doing Man Utd a favour in securing Europa League spot

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Ralf Rangnick sends Brighton message for doing Man Utd a favour in securing Europa League spot

Following their own 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace, Ralf Rangnick was grateful Brighton helped  Manchester United qualify for next season’s Europa League.

Rangnick stepped down by encouraging incoming manager Erik Ten Hag to work on building team spirit at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils’ disappointing season came to an end with another defeat thanks to Wilfried Zaha’s first-half goal, although they avoided the shame of sliding into the Europa Conference League as West Ham failed to win at Brighton.

It meant United finished sixth, but there were few positives for Ten Hag to take after watching from the stands at Selhurst Park.

Rangnick said: “Yes, I think Brighton did us the favour to turn the game around because they were losing at half-time. They scored three times in the second half and that was the good thing about the weekend and about this fixture.

“We would have loved to take care of ourselves but in a way the game was indicative of last couple of weeks, especially when we played away from home.

“It was a new experience for me, not necessary coming in the middle of the season but knowing that it would be an interim role. Unfortunately we didn’t have any pre-season and unfortunately we couldn’t strengthen the squad.

“These things happen and in hindsight it was a little bit bittersweet or sweet bitter rather because in the first couple of weeks and months did well. We collected enough points with an average of 2.1 until the game against Atletico but I think that defeat in the Champions League was in a way like somebody popped the balloon.”

Rangnick, the ex-RB Leipzig manager who will continue to consult with United, was blunt in his judgement that key players of the Old Trafford side lost concentration after exiting the Champions League in March.

The Red Devils were fifth in the table before being eliminated by Atletico Madrid, and they would win only two of their remaining nine games.

Rangnick added: “I think the big goal of some of our top players was the Champions League and after this defeat to Atletico you could literally feel it in training that we did not have the same level of energy, focus and concentration in training.

“In the league if you are not playing at the best or highest level, and this also happened before I arrived, even against bottom teams like Watford you can concede four goals and this can happen.”

Ten Hag did not visit the United dressing room while he was at Palace, and Rangnick has not spoken to the ex-Ajax manager in person.

The German intends to do so in the coming days and has warned his successor of a significant challenge at Old Trafford.

“Team spirit, yes this is also an issue,” Rangnick admitted. “I think this team could do with more cohesion, there could be more togetherness on the pitch.

“This is also important when we think of new players – when the board together with the manager are thinking about new players – that we make sure they are not only players that have the quality to strengthen the squad but they are players who will invest in the team spirit.”

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