Manchester United’s appointment of Ralf Rangnick has definitely given their fans hope. The 63-year old has been appointed by United as an interim manager for six months- with the option of having the role of a consultant of the club after the interim period. This appointment came after the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solsjaer who, after a bright start to his time at the club, left the club quite a horrid situation.
Ralf Ragnick is a well-known and much-respected name in the footballing world. He is known as “The Professor” in German football and some elite coaches like Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel have credited their style of play to have been inspired by Rangnick’s style of play. Rangnick wants his team to play “Gegenpressing” style of football- a very attractive and fast-paced style of football that demands high intensity from the players to pressure the opponent and win the ball back as quickly as possible. On top of that, the players must find a direct route to goal without playing square passes after the ball is won.
Ole Gunnar Solsjaer’s Manchester United team showed glimpses of the Fergie era, but very inconsistently. The biggest criticism Ole received was him not having a clear vision as to how his team is supposed to play, which, towards the end, left the fans very frustrated. However, under Rangnick, it seems like that is not going to be an issue. Manchester United have already played three games under Rangnick- a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace, where United seemed to be getting into the groove of Ralf Rangnick’s preferred style, a 1-1 draw in the Champions League against Young Boys, where United ironically played their youngsters and a less than convincing 1-0 victory against Norwich.
Despite the mixed results and performances, one thing is certain, Ralf Rangnick certainly knows what he wants his players to do. The team, even though it wasn’t really pretty, tried pressing their opponents high up the pitch, and with some success as well.
On Ralf Rangnick’s first game in charge, United won back possession 12 times in the final third- three times more than their season average under Ole. The team also looked to be solid defensively, only letting two shots on target with an xG of 0.7. This certainly gave Manchester United fans hope of a brighter future, albeit it is a little too early to judge. However, the signs are there, and Manchester United fans can start believing again and can hope to finally end their trophy drought.
Manchester United last won a trophy in 2017, which was the UEFA Europa League triumph under Jose Mourinho, which at that time didn’t seem like too much, but looking at the downfall that the club is going through, it was a big achievement indeed. Ralf Rangnick would love to imitate what Thomas Tuchel, one of Rangnick’s own proteges, did with Chelsea last season. Tuchel took charge of a very talented, yet underperforming Chelsea side mid-season and delivered the UEFA Champions League with the same players who performed poorly under ex-manager and legend Frank Lampard. Ralf Rangnick has a similar situation in his hands. The team he has inherited from Solsjaer is one of the best teams in the world on paper, but the performances don’t show for it. Now, under Rangnick, the spark in the team could reignite.
To ask to emulate what Tuchel did at Chelsea is a tough act to follow, but we wouldn’t put it past such an experienced manager and a star-studded team. With the adversities that Manchester United has faced in the last few years, this certainly looks like the most positive step towards building a team that can win titles. With the success that Ralf has had with teams like Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg, one can certainly see this Manchester United team winning silverware under Ralf Rangnick.