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Ten Hag warns against Greenwood distraction for Man. United

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag told his players not to be distracted by Mason Greenwood’s future on Friday, 24 hours after criminal charges against the 21-year-old forward were dropped.

Greenwood had been facing charges including attempted rape and assault, but prosecutors said the case had been discontinued following the withdrawal of key witnesses and “new material that came to light”.

United issued a statement on Thursday saying the club would now “conduct its own process before determining next steps”.

In a short statement released on his behalf, Greenwood said he was “relieved the matter is now over”.

At a pre-match press conference on Friday, Ten Hag refused to be drawn on the subject.

“I can’t add anything,” said the Dutch manager, in his first season at Old Trafford. “I refer to the statement of the club.”

Greenwood, who has two and a half years left on his contract, has been suspended from both training and playing for United since his arrest in January 2022.

But with United still involved in four competitions, Ten Hag is keen for his players to be focused on the job at hand.

“That’s our job, not to get distracted by anything,” Ten Hag added. “We are human beings and sometimes there are issues, we are not like robots, but we have to focus on our job.

“We have so many games so we don’t have time to get distracted by anything. It’s not easy but that is our job.”

Ten Hag has been credited with transforming United’s fortunes as they sit fourth in the Premier League and reached the League Cup final this week for the first time in six years.

Purse strings tightened –

But fatigue could halt their progress with the Red Devils also still in the running for the FA Cup and Europa League.

Ten Hag was only able to add three loan signings: Marcel Sabitzer, Wout Weghorst and Jack Butland in January as the purse strings at Old Trafford were tightened as the Glazer family explore the possibility of selling the club.

“Of course we need players to cover that because there is a limit on every player but I think we have a depth in our squad,” said Ten Hag.

“Maybe not that far as other teams but that also has something to do with your approach to it and how you do your load management. If you do that right, I think we can go far.”

Sabitzer could go straight into the side for Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace following a deadline-day loan move from Bayern Munich.

“He did only one session but you can see he’s a very fit player,” said Ten Hag, who signed the Austrian after playmaker Christian Eriksen was ruled out until early May.

“I didn’t have different expectations coming from Bayern Munich. In Germany their fitness is always good. I think he is ready to play.”

United defender Raphael Varane announced his retirement from international football on Thursday after a France career in which he won the World Cup in 2018 and finished as a runner-up last year in Qatar.

France’s loss could be United’s gain if the 29-year-old former Real Madrid centre-back is able to extend his club career.

“For United, I think it’s good news,” Ten Hag said. “Rapha achieved everything in terms of football club-wise but also with his nation.

“It is incredible what he achieved, big respect, and I am happy he puts all his energy and experience into the team.”

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