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Do Ralf Rangnick’s tactics make him a good fit for Manchester United?

Eduard Bănulescu

Ralf Rangnick arrives as interim manager of Manchester United. The German tactician is a legend. Some managers rule the dressing room because of their performances as footballers. Some rule it because of the numerous trophies that they won in a managerial capacity. Rangnick directly influenced the highly successful generation of German managers. This is why Manchester United wants him.

But, does that make him a good fit? Do his tactics and philosophy match his new players’ abilities? And, is this the start of a new era at Old Trafford? Let’s take a brief, but comprehensive look.

Who is Ralf Rangnick?

Ralf Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick with Jurgen Klopp

Some view Ralf Rangnick as the father of modern football tactics. The 63-year-old’s methods and style directly influenced managers like Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel, or Julian Nagelsmann. Furthermore, all have sung his praises.

Following an uneventful playing career, Rangnick began managing Vfb Stuttgart II in 1985. His first real breakthrough was leading Schalke 04 back in 2004. He furthered his reputation by managing 1899 Hoffenheim. Although not a world-famous manager, it was during this time that his tactical methods began being praised by journalists and other soon-to-be-famous tacticians.

In recent years, he managed and was directly involved with the growth of Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig. While successful as manager of Leipzig, Rangnick continued in an executive capacity, stepping away from field. This, at least, until Manchester United persuaded him to join from Lokomotiv Moscow.

What has Rangnick won as a manager?

Ralf Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick when managing Schalke 04

Ralf Rangnick hasn’t won many trophies. This comes in contrast with some of the other managers of his stature. With Schalke 04 he managed to win the DFB Pokal in 2011. He also won the Intertoto Cup with Vfb Suttgart. Recently, he helped cement Leipzig’s reputation as a major force in the Bundesliga and abroad.

Trophies aren’t what define Ralf Rangnick’s career though. His tactical methods have been immensely influential. Rangnick is also known for developing young talent. Consequently, he is viewed as a professional that can steer a football team’s long-term vision.

What is Ralf Rangnick’s style of play?

Ralf Rangnick is synonymous with counter pressing or gegenpressing. The term has long been adopted to the football lexicon, even making his way into games like Football Manager. Arguably, Jurgen Klopp‘s famous counter-pressing sides would not have developed the way they did without Rangnick’s indirect assistance.

Ralf Rangnick encourages physical, dynamic, active football. His team is asked to win back possession immediately. This, sometimes, is done even at the expense of exposing the defense to weakness. When this approach works, it transforms teams into incredibly efficient units.

What tactics and formation are characteristic of Rangnick’s methods?

ralf rangnick
Ralf Rangnick as manager of RB Leipzig

Ralf Rangnick’s game is based on possession and manic pressing. Consequently, he looks to set up his players so that they have superiority in key areas. His players will create pressing traps. At the appropriate time, Rangnick’s players will target an opposing player to win back the ball.

Ralf Rangnick does not have a set formation. He has often used a 4-4-2, a 3-5-2, and derivates of it. The formation will, often, be chosen to match the opponents. Rangnick’s main purpose is to create strategic overloads.

What will be his tactics for Manchester United?

Ralf Rangnick’s counter-pressing style doesn’t seem like a good match for Manchester United at first glance. However, the Red Devils’ recent performances, a dramatic change may be useful. Rangnick is likely not brought in merely to change the team to suit his style.

Rangnick will work to develop the team. At the end of his interim tenure, most likely, he will take on an executive position. The Manchester United board must feel that Rangnick can help develop youngsters like Mason Greenwood or Jadon Sancho.

Most likely, Ralf Rangnick will not make dramatic tactical changes. He will be expected, however, to implement his stern philosophy and bring a holistic approach to United. His work will not be easy. But, he will have a terrific squad with which to work.

Will Ralf Rangnick be involved in building a new Manchester United team?

Ideally, Ralf Rangnick’s role at Man. United will be two-fold. He is expected to guide the team to a UCL finish this season. Secondly, as an executive, it is hoped that he will bring a higher degree of professionalism to the club.

United will have noticed the success that Liverpool or Chelsea have had with German managers. These managers are, in many ways, disciples of Ralf Rangnick. Manchester United’s board will hope that the same magic can rub off on the Old Trafford side.

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