The impending appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager of Manchester United will introduce a tactical genius to the club at exactly the right time.
Previous manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked from the job on Sunday after a series of dismal performances and results and it is thought that the favourites to take the role on a permanent basis are Maurico Pochettino and Erik ten Hag, both tied up at PSG and Ajax, respectively, until the end of the season.
This left a vacancy to steer the first team through the considerable chunk of this season that remains and after a shortlist of five names was drawn up, Rangnick has emerged this afternoon as the man who has clinched the job.
According to The Telegraph, the man most reports claimed was favourite, former FC Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde, was one of the first names to be ruled out following initial discussions.
The 63-year-old Rangnick, though, is clearly the fan favourite of the bunch, that also included Paulo Fonseca, Rudi Garcia and Lucien Favre. He is also arguably the most celebrated from a tactical point of view – something that appeared to be a shortcoming in Solskjaer’s skillset.
‘Rangnick forged a reputation as one of the most innovative football brains in Europe and has overseen the construction of teams and infrastructure at newly wealthy clubs like Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga,’ The Telegraph notes.
‘Rather than trophies won, it is the way he has altered the philosophies and ideas of a generation of younger coaches in Germany, Austria and beyond.
‘He was at the vanguard of the so-called Gegenpressing revolution, the Germanic phrase for counter pressing adopted by so many of the country’s most famous coaches. The likes of Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are some of his many disciples. Klopp has previously described him as the “best German coach” still within the game.
‘There is no doubt that Rangnick was a visionary, setting many of the trends in the Bundesliga that are now widely adopted in mainstream football fashion across Europe.’
This emphasis on tactical acumen is exactly what United need right now. The quality of playing staff in the first team squad is among the best in the world, but what has been lacking has been an identity, tactical awareness and a modern and effective system of play. There should be no-one more qualified in the world than the German to provide those ingredients.
It was reported that Rangnick insisted that the deal should include a further role at the club beyond the interim manager’s position, something that would appear to have been granted in the form of a consultancy post at the end of the six-month caretaker job.
The deal has not been signed yet as it is subject to a successful negotiation with Rangnick’s current club, Lokomotiv Moscow, in terms of a compensation package.
Assuming that hurdle is negotiated successfully, the German should take up the reins next week once a work permit has been approved.