Manchester United is one of the greatest teams in the world, but they have struggled to replicate their former dominance over the past decade. After Alex Ferguson departed, it seems as though the club has never really rediscovered its identity.
With appointments that didn’t quite fit such as Jose Mourinho, to managers who may not have been given enough time like David Moyes, it hasn’t been an easy road.
Now, United is looking to the future. They have appointed Ralf Rangnick to the club as an interim manager with the plan to introduce a full-time manager in the summer. This should give them enough time to plan for the perfect appointment to take them forward.
But what will Rangnick bring to Manchester United? How will he set them up, and can he bring trophies to the club? In this article, we’re going to take a look at the history of the German manager and review his style of play.
Rangnick started his football career as a player. He had a somewhat uneventful career on the grand scale, but was a great lover of the game and always had a keen eye for tactics. Due to this, whilst playing for VfB Stuttgart he was noted for his tactical ability and added as a player-coach.
His playing career didn’t last particularly long, and shortly afterwards he went into management. He transitioned roles during his time as player-manager at FC Viktoria Backnang, which was his hometown club.
After this, he went on to become manager of the Stuttgart Under-19 for 4 years, winning the Bundesliga title with them. It was in the late 90s during his time at Ulm 1846 that Rangnick began to achieve some seriously impressive achievements, as he got the team promoted to the Bundesliga.
Because of his success at this club, he signed a deal to return to Stuttgart as the first team manager at the end of his second season in charge of Ulm. Unfortunately, this information leaked and results began to decline. This led to Rangnick resigning in March of the same season.
His time as first-team manager of Stuttgart had ups and downs but did not go as well as he had planned, and he was eventually dismissed.
But something about Rangnick’s ideas is appealing to clubs around the world. In June 2012 he became the director of football for both RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig. He implemented recruitment strategies and a vision that saw these clubs become much more successful than they had been previously.
His ability to look into the future and identify excellent young players brought him a lot of praise.
The ideas and philosophies he popularized mean that he is considered by many to be the godfather of modern German football. The popular style of “Gegenpressing” was reportedly developed by Rangnick.
Gegenpressing is a style of football in which players immediately attempt to win back the ball after losing possession, rather than reverting to shape. It is an intricate type of play that requires energetic players and the ability to follow instructions.
Rangnick emerged as the leading candidate to take over from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as interim manager for Manchester United. He will be in charge until the end of the current season, whilst Manchester United identifies a permanent manager.
The interesting thing about this appointment is that the club will be keeping Rangnick on as a consultant once he completes his time as manager. This suggests that his ideas will be key in moving the club forward and that there will finally be a clear direction for this rudderless ship.
His first game in charge saw the Red Devils defeat Crystal Palace 1-0, with the sole goal coming from Fred. Fred is a player who hasn’t performed particularly well since signing for the club, but Rangnick could be exactly the kind of manager who will turn his performances around.
In this respect, he could be considered similar to Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool side, who has actually named Rangnick as one of his influences.
Klopp is a master of getting seemingly average players and turning them into overperformers. Manchester United has had a squad of serial underperformers for quite some time now, and it will be interesting to see how Rangnick adapts that.
Rangnick has proved he has a long-term vision with what he did with the Red Bull teams he has directed. The Manchester United board chose him for the job and his continued consultancy for a reason. This reason is likely his football philosophy.
It’s important for the owners of football clubs to realize that you can’t just hire and fire managers with no plan in place. You might get lucky, but if you’re not going to give control over to someone with a clear vision then the club will be pulled in too many different directions and end up declining rapidly.
Arsenal is a good example of a club that has declined due to severe mismanagement. They have bought too many expensive, ageing signings, and given them huge wages. Now they can’t sell them and Arteta is having to build his squad back from scratch whilst in this unfortunate situation.
Rangnick is the sort of man who is able to identify the strengths in someone's game and apply that to fit the necessities of the team. Rather than go out and play several players who have the exact same style and approach to the game, he will create a balanced side that benefits the club over any individual.
This could result in some unattractive football at times but it’s much more likely to get Manchester United back into the conversation for the top 4. If Rangnick can finish in the top 4 into a Champions League spot, he will be able to leave his role as manager with his head held high and then continue to steer the ship from the sides. You can find tickets for Man U games from Football Ticket Pad.
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