Ralf Rangnick’s role at Manchester United will be much deeper than just interim manager
It was just a matter of time before Ole Gunnar Solskjær was shown the exit door at Old Trafford. Many would argue that the Norwegian should have been sacked a long time before that embarrassing 4-1 defeat away to relegation threatened Watford at Vicarage Road even proved to be the final nail in the coffin, but he’s finally gone and a new era is on the horizon.
Looming is a period that has Manchester United fans beaming with excitement. Ralf Rangnick has given up his role as head of sports and development with Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow to take the interim role at Old Trafford until the end of the season, and he has already helped the Red Devils become more favourable in the odds on the Premier League before he’s even managed a game.
Rangnick’s prior role with Lokomotiv might not sound the most lucrative and to those unfamiliar with who he is, it could actually be a bit uninspiring on paper. But the German is actually credited with transforming the game in the Bundesliga, being the mastermind behind the ‘gegenpress’ and the man who taught the likes of Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, Liverpool gaffer Jürgen Klopp and Bayern Munich’s Julian Naglesmann.
His presence has rival fanbases on edge, and even Klopp told the media that is ‘not good news’ for the rest of the English top-flight clubs.
“Unfortunately, a good coach is coming to England, that’s how it is, to Manchester United,” the Premier League-winning manager said. “Ralf is obviously a really experienced manager. He built most famously two clubs from nowhere to proper threats and forces in Germany with Hoffenheim and Leipzig.
“He did a lot of different jobs in football but always his first concern was being a coach and a manager. That’s what his best skill is, obviously. United will be organised on the pitch, we should realise that – that’s obviously not good news for other teams!”
While his primary objective at the minute is to come in and steady the ship at Old Trafford, making Manchester United a more organised, well-rounded side, his role in the northwest of England is actually much deeper — his interim position is just scratching the surface!
On top of taking the reins from temporary caretaker stand-in Michael Carrick until the end of the current season, Rangnick will remain at the Theatre of Dreams for at least a further two years as a consultant, and that is where things get interesting.
One of his first major tasks, which he might actually get started on straight away, is deciding the future of Paul Pogba. The Frenchman’s United contract is up at the end of this season and it was previously the understanding that the 28-year-old would be departing Old Trafford for free — further weakening the Red Devils’ chances in the Premier League tips.
However, Pogba, who is currently out in Dubai recovering from an injury, is reportedly ‘enthused’ by the appointment of Rangnick and it is extremely unlikely that he is going to sign a pre-contract with another club when allowed to do so from January 1st. The current offer from United will still need to be improved to change Pogba’s mind, but Rangnick could be the one to convince the World Cup winning midfielder to stay,
Then there is the job of hiring his own successor, which in many ways is a strange duty. Former Tottenham man Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax’s Erik ten Hag are believed to the frontrunners, and the Manchester Uniter hierarchy will be drawing on Rangnick’s knowledge and experience from his six months in charge to help them pick the right man for the job given that he will know what skills and assets are needed more than anyone else.
Finally, the German Is renowned for unearthing some of the best young talent in the world and United will be hoping to benefit from Rangnick’s experience. The former RB Leipzig manager has a mammoth scouting pool and is the man who found the likes of Sadio Mané, Ibrahima Konaté, Dayot Upamecano and a certain Erling Braut Haaland.