Manchester United learned from Ralf Rangnick mistake – Samuel Luckhurst

In Ralf Rangnick’s sole appearance in the Old Trafford technical area, Manchester United fans held up a 33,000-leaf mosaic announcing their three European Cups. Rangnick is now tasked with adding money to a sterile cabinet.

Rangnick returned to the tunnel full time with his head bowed that night. United’s 6-1 dismantling of Schalke was the biggest cumulative victory of the European Cup semi-finals and the humiliation was so severe that Anderson scored twice.

The tie was almost over before the second leg. United’s 2-0 win at Gelsenkirchen flattered Schalke, indebted to the imposing Manuel Neuer for keeping the score low. At Old Trafford, Rangnick’s predecessor, Michael Carrick, sat next to Rio Ferdinand in the directors’ box at the same row as Wayne Rooney and Ji-sung Park, four days before Chelsea’s decisive visit to the Premier League. All four started the final.

Only two of United’s starters in the second leg against Schalke lined up in the final. Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, John O’Shea and Darron Gibson were in the XI. Schalke finished the Bundesliga season 14th out of 18.

Reaching the bottom four, ejecting Inter Milan in the quarter-finals with a virtuoso 5-2 triumph at San Siro, is the pinnacle of Rangnick’s coaching career. It’s ironic that United inflicted the nadir.

Over the past decade, Rangnick has become more famous for talent scouting: Joshua Kimmich, Sadio Mane, Dayot Upamecano, Naby Keita, Timo Werner, Roberto Firmino, and Erling Haaland. The only training Rangnick has undertaken since leaving Schalke in September 2011 have been two separate spells with RB Leipzig.

When he left, Schalke’s website said Rangnick suffered from “chronic fatigue syndrome”. He was swimming against the tide then and Rangnick, now 63, will need every ounce of energy to survive the maelstrom of the United States.

Rangnick stood two rows behind Ferguson at a UEFA coaching convention just three weeks before his decoupling from Schalke. Ferguson’s former ally, former United GM David Gill, was on the panel that interviewed Rangnick for the role of England manager in 2016. Gill preferred Sam Allardyce.



Rangnick at Old Trafford in 2011

His impending appointment is a risk. Rangnick hasn’t coached a club outside of Germany and just because he influenced compatriots Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp doesn’t necessarily mean he’s able to compete with them. The apprentices have become the masters.

Among the interim options, Rangnick was the most attractive, although he was initially billed as the permanent replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. His profile is not interim, as Chelsea discovered in January.

“I said, ‘I would love to come and work with you, but I can’t do it for four months. I’m not an interim coach, ” Rangnick said Sunday Times in February. “For the media and the players, you would be the ‘four month manager’, a lame duck, from day one.”

Solskjaer was a dead duck and, with Paris Saint-Germain playing tough, United chose Rangnick. He arrived on Tuesday to be interviewed by Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold and by the time he landed after his flight home, the contract offer had arrived. Rangnick rejected it. United adjusted the conditions and Rangnick agreed. It operates without an agent.

Hiring Rangnick is a decision befitting a football club in crisis. He is not among the beneficiaries of Boys Jobs that the club have become accustomed to hiring under Solskjaer’s supervision and the offer to stay beyond this season in a consultant role is gradual. Rangnick also knows that if he performs well enough, the “interim” could be struck from his title.

It is high time that someone put their nose up in an environment free from constructive conflict. Jose Mourinho profited from it so much that a staff member described him as a “monster” and was almost reduced to tears. United went to the opposite extreme with the gentle Solskjaer and he was never able to make United a force again.



Rangnick is the latest trainer to operate in Ferguson's shadow
Rangnick is the latest trainer to operate in Ferguson’s shadow

Rangnick arrives at United two and a half years too late. It would have been a logical choice for the first role of Director of Football which was eventually occupied by John Murtough as Director of Football, only United felt Rangnick was too synonymous with recruiting. They could have been satisfied with his contribution by reducing the list of 804 right-backs before settling on Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Murtough has admirably supported Rangnick, realizing that they need experience and expertise in this area. United did not finalize their structure until March, with Darren Fletcher appointed technical director, and the compliant culture left them tied on points with Brighton, having conceded seven more goals. Fletcher, initially hired as a coach, is already back in the dugout after analyzing the matches in the directors’ box and the press box.

Rangnick will put the others back in their boxes.


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