Last week, news broke that Ralf Rangnick will become the interim manager of Manchester United until the end of this season - following the sacking of manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He will then take over a consultancy role and will have a say on United’s next manager but who is what do we know about the German?
For a lot of football fans, I think the name would have rung a bell but they may not have been familiar with his body of work in football.
After an unglamorous playing career, the German got into managing at the tender age of 25. This was in a player-manager roll at FC Viktoria Backnang. His first standalone job would in 1988 at SC Korb.
It wouldn’t be until 1999 that he would get his first taste of Bundesliga action with VFB Stuttgart. He would then go on to have success at Hannover 96, Schalke 04, and 1899 Hoffenheim, even getting little-known Ulm to the Bundesliga. He won 5 trophies at the first 4 clubs mentioned. Most impressively and a feat he would repeat later in his career, Rangnick took Hoffenheim an unheralded team from a village in Germany called Sinsheim from the lower reaches of German football all the way to the Bundesliga in just 5 years.
Rangnick would then step away from managing citing the fact that he was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and no longer had the energy to give the role the treatment it deserved. This, however, led to arguably Rangnick’s best achievement in football and what most fans know him for.
In the summer of 2012, Rangnick would take over as director of football for both Red Bull Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg. At Leipzig, it only took Rangnick 6 years to oversee promotion from the German fourth tier all the way to the Bundesliga. Rangnick would also step into coach Leipzig in brief 1-year stints in 2015 and 2018. He took Leipzig from obscurity to Champions League regulars while Salzburg at the same time began to start dominating in Austria - winning the league and cup on the regular.
Coaching wise, Rangnick is likely your favourite manager's favourite manager. He is to Klopp, Tuchel and Nagelsmann what Marco Bielsa is to Guardiola and Pochettino. Their inspiration. In fact, Tuchel likely wouldn’t even be involved in football if it wasn’t for Rangnick as he gave him a job in coaching when Tuchel was working in a bar.
He is known as the godfather of Gegenpressing, which is a high-intensity form of pressing where the team tries to regain possession immediately after losing it. As Klopp describes it “‘The best moment to win the ball is immediately after your team just lost it. The opponent is still looking for orientation where to pass the ball. He will have taken his eyes off the game to make his tackle or interception and he will have expended energy. Both make him vulnerable.’ One of Rangnicks most popular mantras is his teams must regain possession within 8 seconds of surrendering it.
Will He Succeed at Man Utd?
Manchester United fans can expect a big change in the intensity of their football for the remainder of the season but perhaps what's even more exciting is the consultancy role he will take up given how he has been the architect of the Red Bull football empire’s rise this past decade.
With Ajax coach Ten Haag and PSG coach Pochettino the two who seem most likely to take over, United supporters will be hopeful for a new dawn with either of the two in the Old Trafford hot seat and Rangnick pulling the strings in the background.