Home » Manchester United’s interim manager search leads to Ralph Rangnick

Manchester United’s interim manager search leads to Ralph Rangnick

by Scott Eckersley

In looking to appoint Ralph Rangnick as interim manager, Manchester United might finally be making a step towards being the kind of modern, forward-thinking club that fans have craved.

The German has carved a reputation as a club-builder and visionary during a highly successful career as both a manger and sporting director.

No less an authority than Jurgen Klopp once admitted that Rangnick’s Hoffenheim played the kind of proactive, high-pressing attacking game he hoped to repeat with his own Dortmund side.

In a fascinating interview with The Coaches’ Voice, the 63-year-old spelled out his footballing principles – his 3 pillars for success – the three C’s – and it’s enough to have even the weariest of United fans drooling in anticipation.

“The first one is concept,” he says. “This focuses on the importance of implementing a specific DNA into the club – particularly the style of football we want the team to play.”

“The playing style should be highly recognisable – so much so that, even on a bad day, you can still recognise the kind of football that the team wants to play.”

After the incoherence of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era, it’s a highly promising start to an interview that is littered with fascinating insights.

He continues, “The second C is for competence. We try to find the best possible people for each job, guaranteeing competence across the club.

“It is key to have a competent and excellently trained staff in every position, and to challenge them every day to make themselves and the club better.”

This seems particularly pertinent in light of frequent criticisms that the Old Trafford club has become something of an inward-looking old boys’ club.

And the laser-focused former Schalke man will not tolerate mediocrity, so can be expected to show ruthlessness with members of staff who don’t meet his meticulous standards.

His third and final ‘C’ stands for capital – or cash. The Glazers can perhaps rest easily knowing that he doesn’t see money as the be-all-and-end-all.

“Capital is a limited-success factor,” he says. “Alone, it is far from enough. What’s more, concept and competence, if you use them well, will generate capital.”

While his principles are welcome viewing in themselves, it’s his vision of how football should be played that really quickens the pulse.

“First, possession of the ball against a well-organised opponent. Second, how do we play when the other team is in possession of the ball – where and how intensely do we attack?

“Three and four, the two transitional moments of the game after winning and losing the ball. Five, set-pieces, both in offence and defence…The style we [he and Klopp] both like is a very proactive kind of football.

“It’s high-pressing, counter-pressing football with fast, proactive counter-attacking.”

And it just happens to be the kind of dominant, high-pressure game that United fans have been desperate to see. While the football world has moved on, the Reds have appeared to be stuck in a rut, wedded to an antiquated ideal and oblivious to advances in the wider game.

Rangnick is widely seen as one of the forefathers of the Gegenpress and a huge influence over the direction of European football in this century.

If United can tap into that vast reserve of football knowledge and give the German the autonomy to do his own thing, this might turn out to be the best football decision they’ve made in a decade.

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