Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick said on Friday he understood why the fans were disappointed with the club’s form this season as they protested outside the training ground, asking them to keep the protests peaceful.

A group of protesters assembled outside Carrington training ground on Friday amid an increased security presence, with a United spokesperson saying it was peaceful and that the club respected the opinions of fans.

A disappointing 1-0 loss at relegation battling Everton last weekend left United seventh in the league standings, six points off fourth place and the final Champions League spot with seven games left.

“We all know that football is a game of passions and emotions and we can all understand,” Rangnick told reporters ahead of Saturday’s home game against bottom side Norwich City.

“I can understand the supporters being disappointed about where we stand in the table and the performance against Everton. I still believe our supporters are one of the best, if not the best in England.

“As long as they do the protest in a peaceful way and as long as they still support the team in the stadium, they have the right to express their opinion. Emotionally I can understand them being disappointed.”

A protest against the club’s owners, the Glazer family, descended into chaos last year when fans stormed the Old Trafford pitch and forced authorities to postpone their league game against rivals Liverpool.

Rangnick, who was appointed interim manager in December until the end of the season, said there were moments this season when the team was able to play at a higher level but bemoaned the lack of consistency.

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“What we couldn’t do was sustain it over a longer period of time … I’m not happy with that myself, but this is what we will try to do for the rest of the season,” Rangnick said.

“I can imagine what the reasons (United could not sustain that form) are but without using that as an excuse, we have lost a few players … It’s about still finding the best possible balance to defend our goal and our box.”

Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has been tipped to take the permanent role next season but the Dutch manager refused to acknowledge reports of taking up the job as he concentrates on winning a league and cup double.

“I don’t know if it’s a done deal,” Rangnick said. “We all know he’s a good manager, that he has done a good job at Ajax and also at former clubs.

“But right now it doesn’t make sense to tell you what I think about any other coach.”

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