RALF TO THE RESCUE!

Finally, the future seems to be looking a little less messy for Manchester United. Having parted ways with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a string of poor results, and Michael Carrick overseeing the win over Villarreal, they have now hired an interim manager till the end of the season.

 

 

Ralf Rangnick, the German innovator and former head coach, has been tapped as the successor to Solskjaer. He will then move into a consultancy role for the next two years in the summer as United go in search of a permanent manager. Rangnick is one of the great masters of German football, who has revolutionized a lot of things both on and off the pitch. His fit at United will surely benefit both parties if utilised to the maximum.

 

PRESSING INTENSELY AND ZONAL MARKING

Probably the two most important concepts when it comes to describing Rangnick. He was one of the first managers in the 1980s to popularize “Gegenpressing” with his teams. In this concept, the team tries to win the ball within five-eight seconds of losing the ball, with all the players close to it pressing intensely and quickly.

 

Rangnick stresses the importance of playing passes forward in order to break the lines of the opposition, with sideways passing a rarity. He has had immense success in guiding clubs in lower divisions to the top-flight, most notably with Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig. Furthermore, Rangnick is wholly football-driven and demands exceptional standards from his players, along with a hankering for having the perfect individual for each specific role.

 

The idea of zonal marking came from the great Arrigo Sacchi, who was instrumental in the great AC Milan side back in the day. Rangnick wants to counter-pressure immediately after winning the ball, and move it fast so that everyone has to be switched on all the time. There will be no dallying on the ball or back passes for safety measures.

 

Furthermore, he has an affinity in developing young players into world-beaters along with operating with a first-class scouting department in order to identify less-heralded talents.

 

CHANGES INCOMING

Coming to how United can excel with Rangnick at the helm, it is not an easy task for obvious reasons. The Red Devils have…not been pressing their opponents well or at all this season. They are content with sitting back and waiting for a mistake or a loose ball falling to them. Even when they have tried to press, it has not gone to plan at all in heavy defeats to Liverpool and Watford.

 

Furthermore, most of the players have looked lethargic in doing the defensive work which will soon be a thing of the past once Rangnick starts getting his philosophy across. United can expect to play at a much more high-octane level, greater commitment and hunger for the ball and relentless attacks as fast as possible.

 

Moreover, Rangnick will also look to use the best possible players for his style at his disposal. This can mean the favourites occasionally miss out in order to better make the squad a cohesive fit. Rangnick is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with big names or management, and it could well be that even Cristiano Ronaldo can find himself benched. Solskjaer never tried to imbibe the “win-at-all-costs” mentality which is seen on the pitch as United dawdled on the pitch for far too long.

 

Coming to who all can benefit the most under Rangnick, undoubtedly the attackers. Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Donny Van de Beek can all look to sharply improve their arsenal and attacking instincts. Indeed, even Anthony Martial can hope to revive his form and career but above them all will come the workrate. Rangnick will need to see how well the players commit themselves in training and how quickly they are understanding the principles of the manager.

 

Despite not having the shiniest of trophy cabinets, what makes Rangnick so appealing is how well he had approached his past appointments and the success he has had in developing the teams. He basically built the whole Red Bull football project, overseeing their rise as a global entity.

 

Rangnick has also served as a mentor to Thomas Tuchel, Julian Nagelsmann, Jurgen Klopp, Jesse Marsch among many current managers who have all been extremely successful in their time at the top.

 

MORE THAN A MANAGER

It was a little surprising to hear United going after top managerial targets for only six-months. No doubt Rangnick was also iffy at taking only an interim role, so the board led by technical director John Murtough has given him a more long-term contract as well.

 

His two-year role in a consulting capacity beyond the initial term will give him a strong say in signings and decision-making at the club. This also bodes well for the future of United who are finally looking for a more data-driven approach and scientific methods in order to look ahead for the future.

 

Nevertheless, in the short term, Rangnick will surely have a much more positive impact than what the other options could have given the side.

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