On hearing of the final appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim boss, a great number of Manchester United fans may have been left scrambling for Wikipedia in an effort to learn more about a manager who may be a household name in Germany but is something of a mystery to most in England.
The 63-year-old boss certainly talks a good game. Plenty of footage has been circulating on sports shows, and it tends to show how passionate and analytical Rangnick is about the game, and that’s a helpful type of character to have around at Old Trafford. The main reason such a character is needed to steady the ship at Man United is the apparent absence of any sort of plan.
It’s quite clear now that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was out of his depth. He would never have been appointed had he not had a history with the club, in much the same way Chelsea would never have taken a chance on Frank Lampard, and for the same reason Michael Carrick was never going to keep hold of his job (despite his good run of form).
With Rangnick, Man United have a chance to settle and plan, and one wonders just how the former Schalke and Red Bull Leipzig manager will set about the task of rescuing the current campaign.
Progress in the Champions League is one key target, but it’s clear Man United won’t be among Squawka.com’s UCL tips to go far into the competition. Hunting for a fourth-place finish is, of course, the main goal.
Making Do With What He Has In His Armoury
First off, Man United have an impressive squad and one that could, if playing at their best, mount a push for fourth place. There are issues in key areas for sure, but overall there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Defensively they are, of course, a shambles, and that’s why Rangnick will have been pleased with the clean sheet they secured at home to Crystal Palace in his first game in charge; by the way, that’s the first home Premier League clean sheet the club has kept since March.y
Rangnick opted to use Alex Telles and Diogo Dalot as his attacking full-backs, and one wonders if that spells trouble for both Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, two players who were skating on thin ice.
When it comes to the centre of his defence, would Rangnick be willing to drop Harry Maguire? That seems unlikely, but he will definitely want to see the club captain prove himself in the coming weeks.
In the centre of the park, the combination of Fred and Scott McTominay is not one you’d associate with any side that has aspirations of winning major trophies, but it may be what Rangnick has to make do with for now. Both Solsjkaer and Carrick made a point of defending Fred by pointing out that he’s a regular starter for the Brazilian national team, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that we are talking about a player who is seriously average.
In the attacking department, there are more than enough options, and in many ways, the biggest struggle is appeasing everyone. Cristiano Ronaldo should be starting any match of substance, and likewise, Bruno Fernandes, the rest of the options will have to fight it out for attention.
January Isn’t Likely to See Big Moves In The Transfer Market
By appointing an interim manager, the Glazers can cleverly make few moves to improve the Man United squad in January, citing reasons related to whomever they wish to appoint next summer.
A raft of players have been linked with a move to United, some of which seem plucked out of thin air and based on connections with Rangnick, the most ridiculous of these being Timo Werner and Erling Brandt Haaland, but neither of these players will be playing for United any time soon.
Ralf Rangnick won’t see much in the way of new additions, but he has a large squad of players to help him mount challenges for silverware and a top-four spot.
High Energy Press
Rangnick is known for wanting his side to play the high press and will have his work cut out, getting some of the United playing staff to adhere to these principles. He also likes his side to burst on the counter, and again with his current midfield options, the bridge between defence and attack is weak, to say the least.
This leads to questions as to where/how Paul Pogba will fit in. The French international is currently out with a thigh injury, with some reports suggesting he could be out until February (which seems a long time for such an injury). The 28-year-old is known for his languid displays, and he may have to be something of a round peg in a square hole for Rangnick, but either way, when he’s at his best, the World Cup winner does have the ability to make an impact.
Rangnick has a simple task and very little pressure to complete it, and that may be a positive factor. The experienced manager needs a top-four finish and/or a cup success, but either way, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll convert his interim position into a permanent role, so he’s very much on a hiding to nothing.
Man United fans will give him time to show what he can achieve whilst also being aware that none of the mess he’s inherited is likely to be resolved in just six months.