Ralf Rangnick, 63, has officially been announced as Manchester United’s new interim head coach, after leaving his post as sporting director of Lokomotiv Moscow and signing a six-month contract with the Red Devils.
Since the news broke that Rangnick was to be appointed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s successor, the world of football reveled in admiration of the German coach’s intellect and achievements. Jurgen Klopp was impressed with the impending appointment, stating that his arrival is “not good” for Liverpool, insinuating that Rangnick’s presence will pose a possible threat to the Reds and other rivals.
However, on what basis are these words of admiration based on? What has Ralf Rangnick done to allow many in the football world and the Manchester United hierarchy believe that he is the man to guide the club back on the track of winning titles?
Rangnick’s reputation precedes him and there is no doubt he has impacted football significantly with his revolutionary philosophy, with managers Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp highlighting that Rangnick had a significant contribution to their coaching careers and where they are as managers today.
The German coach, known as the godfather of modern German coaching, is yet to manage a club of similar stature to Manchester United. Two of his biggest head coach/managerial stints came with FC Schalke 04 and RB Leipzig, where he exceeded expectations with either club, leading the former to the UEFA Champions League semifinal and German Cup in 2011 and, with Leipzig, transforming the club from a 4th tier German team to a major force in the Bundesliga. Yet despite these outstanding achievements, in addition to his unique and ground-breaking style of play, the fact that Rangnick is yet to coach a big club with major stars could pose a possible area of concern for Manchester United fans.
Ideally, the appointment of Rangnick is said to be in accordance with the club’s intention to rebuild, start over and create a foundation where Manchester United can attract a permanent manager in the near future. United’s current situation is not akin to a club in need of a rebuild. United, in comparison with a Schalke or a Leipzig, possess the players, a fanbase and infrastructure that should, realistically, prompt the owners to look for a manager who is prepared to help the club in winning titles now. There was no intention of rebuilding when the club signed five-time Ballon-d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo and four-time UCL winner Raphael Varane last summer as those were marquee signings aimed at making a signal of intent to win trophies this season. Manchester United is a club in need of a structure that will place them in a better position to challenge for titles.
In addition to this, Rangnick’s appointment came with a promise by the United hierarchy that he would be given a consultancy position at the end of his tenure as interim manager. It was reported by Italian journalist Gabriele Marcotti, that Rangnick was admired by AC Milan, who wanted to take him on in a similar position but talks broke down because the German wanted too much control over the club’s style of play, which would have caused major issues with Stefano Pioli, the current manager of Milan. What is to say, that when Rangnick is offered an elevated position at the club after his contract has expired, that he will not pose the same issues for Manchester United? Also, if that report is true and he is offered a title that would place him in direct involvement with how the club performs on the field, United’s managerial options would then be limited as he, Rangnick, would assumably want to influence the hiring of someone with a similar philosophical mindset as him.
Unlike these major issues that could lead to headaches for the Manchester United hierarchy following Rangnick’s arrival, the on-field problems could get even worse as well. Club legend Cristiano Ronaldo was most recently left out of the starting XI in the Premier League, against league leaders Chelsea FC. It is widely believed, due to the incoming manager’s pressing philosophy, that Cristiano Ronaldo’s starting spot in the first team might come under significant questioning. This would therefore mean that in order to avoid constant scrutiny from the media and the Manchester United hierarchy, Rangnick would have to build his team and center his philosophy around a 36-year-old attacker who has time and again bailed Manchester United out of losing positions this season.
United is definitely going through a period where it is evident that the club is in need of a manager who will instill a winning mentality within the team and restore the pride of the club amongst the elites. The club has to move on from the notion that they are currently in a stage of renovation and accept that they have been punching way below their expected standard. Manchester United need to win a title this season and anything less for Rangnick and this squad should be seen as a failure.