Rangnick warned Manchester United must secure European football

Ralf Rangnick has been told it is imperative Manchester United qualify for Europe next season even if they miss out on a place in the Champions League, sources have told ESPN.

Defeat at Everton on Saturday left United seventh in the table, six points behind Tottenham in fourth, with seven games to play.

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It has raised the possibility that Rangnick could look to use the remaining games to rotate his squad and play youngsters from the academy but sources have told ESPN that during meetings with the board, Rangnick has been reminded that securing European football for next season is important for the club’s finances – even if it’s via the Europa League or Europa Conference League.

United reported matchday revenue of £ 34.6 million in their latest quarterly results, a period during which eight games were played in front of a capacity crowd at Old Trafford.

There is also commercial revenue attached to playing in UEFA competitions.

United, who hope to appoint Erik ten Hag as their next permanent manager, would have an easier schedule next season if there was no European football, allowing the new boss to focus solely on the Premier League.

But the dent left in the finances – although not catastrophic – would not go down well with club chiefs.

United could still finish seventh and still qualify for Europe.

Rangnick’s team, who play Norwich at Old Trafford on Saturday, are in danger of missing out on top four Champions League places with Tottenham in the driving seat.

The team finishing fifth in the Premier League will enter the Europa League group phase along with the FA Cup winners while the Europa Conference League place goes to the winners of the EFL Cup.

Liverpool have already won the EFL Cup and are almost certain of a place in the top four and if the FA Cup winners also finish in the top five, the European places will stretch down to seventh. Crystal Palace are the only team left in the FA Cup not currently in the top four.

Meanwhile, United are continuing to monitor attempts on social media to organize a protest against the club’s owners, the Glazer family, ahead of the game against Norwich.

The 1958 group are asking fans to march to Old Trafford at 2 pm BST (9 am ET) but only enter the stadium after 17 minutes of the game have been played – one minute for each year of Glazer ownership.

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