Ralf Rangnick… What does he bring to Manchester United?

November 29th, 2021 | Football

Ralf Rangnick has been confirmed as the new Manchester United interim manager, with the idea that he’ll then move into a consultancy role at the club for a further two years.

So, what will the 63-year-old German bring to the Red Devils?

Rangnick is very well respected in the coaching world and is often referred to as the godfather of the “gegenpress” tactic. This tactic in its simplest form is a high press with the view to win the ball back within seconds of losing it. This is done by Rangnick encouraging two, maybe even three players, to apply intense pressure on the opposition player on the ball. Once the ball has been won back quickly it’s about exposing the opposition’s unsettled and disorganised defence and creating a goalscoring chance. So that’s the benefit of the “gegenpress” offensively, but it also has benefits defensively. The system relies on a counter press. This is pressing the opposition straight after losing the ball to prevent a counterattack, basically attempting to counter the counterattack.

Rangnick hates sideways and backwards passing. He likes his team to attack at pace, with purpose and in numbers. He’s described this himself as “Heavy metal football”. Examples of teams which utilise the “gegenpress” tactic and attack like this are the Red Bull clubs, which he’s been heavily involved in, or you could look at a Premier League side in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who play like this.

So, what kind of system and personnel will Rangnick deploy at United. His style of coaching is far more relevant with the mentioned “gegenpress” tactic, making the formation almost irrelevant. Rangnick has managed both RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim. He’s used 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-2-2-2, 4-4-2 diamond and even a 3-5-2. The only thing I’d really take notice of is his clear desire to play two up front. This is likely down to the benefits this has on deploying a high press, but also means you have more players forward, ready in attacking positions, if you win the ball high up the pitch. It doesn’t matter which system he plays as it’ll be the same style of play. Another element of Rangnick teams is if the ball is lost in a central position, his wingers will look to cut out the pass to a wide player, forcing the play to remain central. It’s then down to the central players to apply the press and win the ball back.

The main thing to take away from his decisions regarding formations is the fact he usually picks a system based on the squad he’s been given. He’s well known in the coaching industry for his ability to get the best out of a group of players.

What team do I believe Rangnick will pick at United? I don’t know if he’ll go with a 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or 4-2-2-2. But I think I know what kind of players he’ll like. The likes of Martial, Lingard and van de Beek suit his style of quick one-touch attacking, positive football, so I believe they’ll get a chance. I think he’ll like players like Fred, Sancho and Cavani due to their work-rate. With that work rate, pace and quality in mind, I also think he’ll really like Anthony Elanga, who he hopefully gives a chance, along with other youth products.

If I had to pick a Rangnick Starting XI with everything in mind and presuming players are fit, I’d go for a team of De Gea, Telles, Maguire, Varane, Wan-Bissaka, Fred, van de Beek, Fernandes, Sancho, Martial and Ronaldo. This team could be played as a 4-3-3 or any variation of 4-4-2, with Bruno either deployed out wide or in central midfield. I also think he’ll prefer Telles and his more pressing style of defending, whereas Shaw defends with more patience and positional play. He’s also been quoted as saying Luke Shaw is good, but not at the level Manchester United need.

Overall, I believe the Manchester United fans, obviously myself included, are really excited about this appointment by the club, and are now hoping to see consistent, quick, positive attacking football for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.


Please note: The football articles that feature on this site are being written by Jack Dixon as part of his work experience. He is a teenager and looking for work experience within the football industry. He is currently studying for his media and art A-levels.