The details of Ralf Rangnick’s upcoming mentoring role at Manchester United are still to be confirmed, but the interim manager’s confidence in where the club will solidify this summer couldn’t be clearer.
Talking to Sports sky at United’s Carrington base shortly after a press conference, where thorny topics about Louis van Gaal’s apparent relationship against United and Nemanja Matic’s comments about camp morale were on the agenda. , the 63-year-old seemed much more comfortable discussing the best way to boost his club’s morale, having passed back in contention for silverware.
It’s been less than five months since he took the top job at Old Trafford, and the league kicks off on the day United will finish fourth. That would be considered a relative success if they capture that spot on the final day of the season, a fact given the scale of the task that the next manager – and Rangnick in the next role – – will have in closing the gap with the Premier League Summit.
“Obviously something needs to be changed, something needs to be rebuilt in the summer,” he said. Sports sky. “The team could do with some richer, more ambitious players who really want to develop their own careers.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to sign the big names. I wouldn’t mind the big names! But for me it’s important to be competitive, hungry, to see a move to a club. set – and I’ve always believed this – not just as a big deal, a big-name club, but as the next logical step in his career.
“If this happens, then you have a completely different level of motivation, aspiration, inspiration to play for any club. That will be the main target in the summer transfer window.”
Of course, if it’s that simple, why can’t any club do it? Rangnick’s answer involved patience and time, two things football desperately needs but often doesn’t provide. A good manager will also help. And one of Germany’s oldest friends in the game is a shining example.
“Look at Liverpool,” he said. “When Jurgen Klopp went there five and a half years ago, it was early in the season, but they were still eighth in the Premier League with a point average of around 1.6.
“They played in a European final but lost, and from that summer transfer window on, if you compare the squad from that final to now, there are a few players still there, such as Henderson and Firmino, but they add Top signings in almost any transfer window Players for whom that move will be the next step – Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah.
“It shows it’s possible, but you need to have both the quality and the recruitment process and the players and the best manager possible.”
The identity of that next manager – as everything around United – is a matter of passionate debate and protracted outside the club.
Inside, Erik ten Hag was talked about this week, though Rangnick has distanced himself from internal discussions about his successor. “We don’t have time to talk about what’s going to happen in regards to new players or a new manager,” he said when asked if his mentoring role is close to being defined. are not.
United will be hoping that the appointment of a manager will be the one to bring them back to the Premier League title, but meanwhile Rangnick has laid the groundwork before moving upstairs at the end of the season.
Within days of being appointed in December, he identified the leaky defense as his first hole to fill, and has since begun honing the balance for United to keep. enough firepower to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
That presents a challenge that still has a lot of work underway – and will be tested again as his side look to cut the gap down to fourth against Leicester, live. Sky Sports Premier League on Saturday night from 5pm.
He said: “After Christmas our focus was on making sure the team created enough chances but since then we’ve had games like the FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough, the home game against Watford and some other games where we didn’t score enough goals from the chances we created.
“That’s why we’ve lost so many points, eight draws in total, and so many moments where we’re 1-0 or even 2-0 – at Aston Villa. – and then it ends in a draw.”
Fred could have an unexpected role in improving United’s attacking output thanks to the new role given to him by Rangnick, who has tasked him with becoming a more creative figure in the front line. United defender.
The manager considers him one of the most underrated players at Old Trafford, and it seems puzzling why the forward-thinking aspects of his game have often been constrained since he He moved to Manchester.
“For me, he is an extremely valuable player, a team player in the true sense of the word, a player who gives his all and will give the team his last drop of blood.
“He’s also a player who can score and has those surprising elements in his game, little hits, and he can also be a technical player.
To reduce him to number six, a defensive midfield player, does not rate him highly enough. He can do more than just defend.
“That combination makes him incredibly valuable, and to reduce him to just number six, a defensive midfield player, doesn’t rate him highly enough. He can do it. It’s more than just defense.”
One thing Rangnick won’t be able to fix before the summer is the limelight surrounding himself, his players and the club. United is down in history and known to the world, and that’s not going to change – and he doesn’t want it either.
But it comes with its own set of difficulties, with Matic’s admission that the atmosphere in the dressing room was “not great” being the latest in a long line of whispers.
Those ‘leaks’, if they are indeed real, are certainly a disappointment for Rangnick, who has never faced a media storm of this magnitude before. But four months later, it’s something he feels he must keep, and is partly to blame for the bloated squad he inherited when he first arrived at Old Trafford.
“I think any manager would wish these things didn’t exist, but you have to know what is true and what is not,” he said. “I know the atmosphere in the dressing room among the players very well.
“Obviously, when you lose a game like Atletico, it’s not good. But the same thing will happen to Anthony Elanga and Victor Lindelof of Sweden after they lose to Poland – that’s football.
“Until Christmas, the size of the team was just too big and when you could only bring in three people per game, then you had some players who barely had a chance to get game time. They were. naturally won’t feel important in and that’s the most annoying thing that can happen.
“Sometimes, the players or maybe even the people around them will come up with something in the media. That’s normal, it’s not something unique to a sentence. clubs like Manchester United.
“But if you look at the top teams in Europe, England and abroad, they have 20 players out on the field at the same level who can easily be expected to play. If you’re still playing in four leagues, you’re going to have to take a look. At the end of the season, you need those 18, 20 players, two for each position and you can rotate, plan ahead for the next three or four games.”
So there’s Rangnick’s formula – the right manager, the right hire, the right squad size. Could the glory days return to Old Trafford sooner than we think?
It was clear from the frankness of our 20-minute interview that when he said maybe, he really meant it. “It all has to go hand in hand,” he explained. “It doesn’t make any sense if everything isn’t coordinated. If that’s the case, why is it taking so long?”
Watch live Man Utd vs Leicester on Sky Sports Premier League from 5am on Saturday; start at 5:30pm