Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick has defended his decision not to play Jesse Lingard in what could have been the winger’s final game at Old Trafford after receiving criticism from the player’s brother.
Lingard was an unused substitute as the Red Devils ran out as 3-0 winners over Brentford in their final home league game of a frustrating season on Monday, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, and Raphael Varane on the scoresheet.
A number of players either confirmed or likely to leave Old Trafford, including Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Phil Jones, and Edinson Cavani, were given appearances by Rangnick, although Lingard was not afforded a farewell outing ahead of his contract expiring in June.
That attracted the ire of the player’s brother Louie Scott, who posted on Instagram: “20 years of blood sweat and tears, four domestic trophies, three cup final goals, not even a farewell. No wonder it’s Conference League next year.”
But Rangnick insists he has done more for Lingard than several past United bosses, and listed several factors affecting his decision not to play the 29-year-old.
“Well to start with, I think in the last couple of weeks under my tenure, he has played far more games than he used to before I came,” Rangnick said.
“Number two, on gameday against Chelsea [last Thursday] he contacted me at the hotel and asked me to release him from the game and to also release him from the training session two days after the Chelsea game, for some personal family reasons, and I allowed him to do that.
“This was the reason, and with only three substitutions, unfortunately – in all the other leagues you have five – I had to take a decision between bringing on Cavani or Lingard, or even the young Alejandro Garnacho, who I also would have loved to bring on and give him a chance after being 3-0 up.
“I took the decision to bring on Edinson for the very reasons I just explained. If I hadn’t brought on Edinson maybe someone else would have posted ‘it was classless not to bring on Cavani’, or someone else would have posted ‘why didn’t the manager bring on Garnacho?’
“You have to take a decision. This will not be to the liking of everybody, but it’s part of the game.”
Lingard has made 22 appearances for the Red Devils in all competitions this season, although only four of those have been starts and the 29-year-old has only featured for a total of 548 minutes.
United are looking to avoid a fifth consecutive away league defeat when they travel to Brighton and Hove Albion in their penultimate game of the Premier League season on Saturday, with their current run of four consecutive league losses on the road already their worst such streak since the 1980-1981 season (a run of six).
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