Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has hit back at claims he was wrong to deny Jesse Lingard the chance to say farewell to Old Trafford.
Lingard is expected to leave when his contract expires in June, but the United midfielder was unable to say goodbye to fans after Rangnick left him on the bench for the club’s last home game of the season.
Rangnick gave playing time to Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani — all expected to depart United in the close season — but Lingard remained an unused substitute for Monday’s 3-0 win against Brentford.
That prompted Lingard’s brother Louie Scott to hit out at Rangnick on social media, pointing to the 29-year-old’s two decades of service since he joined United aged seven in 2000.
Lingard has made only four United starts this term after shining on loan at West Ham in the second half of last season.
But Rangnick insisted his decision not to select the England midfielder against Brentford was nothing personal.
“To start with, in the last couple of weeks under my tenure he has played far more games than he used to,” Rangnick told reporters on Friday.
“Secondly, on game day against Chelsea, he asked me to release him from the game and training the following day for personal family reasons.
“This was the reason. I had to take a decision between Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard.
“I took the decision to bring on Edinson. Had I not brought on Edinson someone else might have asked if it’s classless not to bring on Cavani.
“You have to take a decision and this will not be to the liking of everybody. This is part of the game.”
Lingard could come back into contention for United’s trip to Brighton on Saturday, with Marcus Rashford ruled out with bronchitis and Jadon Sancho also a fitness doubt.
Meanwhile, Rangnick is still yet to speak to Erik ten Hag, who will arrive from Ajax to take charge next season, about the United squad.
Rangnick plans to discuss the club with his successor at the end of the campaign.
Ten Hag’s Ajax have three games left as they try to pip PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch title race.
“We will definitely speak at the end of the season. Both Erik and myself want to have our full focus on the outstanding games, he has three to play and will do everything to win the title in the Netherlands,” Rangnick said.
“We have agreed we will have a chat and speak about everything at the end of the season.”