Although Ralf Rangnick may only be joining Manchester United temporarily, his impact on the club – even if brief – could reverse years of tactical stagnation in the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United have hired a man considered to be the ‘godfather’ of German coaching, and the man described by Liverpool Jürgen Klopp as one of the best in the business.
He is known as a pioneer in Gegenpress and has greatly influenced Europe’s revival of German coaching over the past few decades.
Klopp is not only a mentor, but also Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel as well as Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann.
So where is he now after all these years?
After a long and unsuccessful career as a player Rangnick decided to become a coach in his twenties. He took to coaching like a duck to water.
After delicately explaining the concept of pressing to German television viewers, his academic demeanour earned him “The Professor” as a nickname.
After a successful spell in charge of Ulm 1846, and Reutlingen 065, he was offered the Stuttgart job in 1999. He worked briefly with Schalke, Hoffenheim, and Hannover in the 2000s before joining Red Bull’s war machine in 2012.
Rangnick’s business acumen is as sharp as his tactical knowledge, and they merged perfectly when he was appointed director of football at Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig in 2012.
He instantly changed the landscape.
Salzburg signed the likes of Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Takumi Minamino and Péter Gulácsi, while Leipzig jumped up from the fourth tier of German football to the Bundesliga in six seasons.
In 2015, he was appointed Leipzig’s new head coaching coach and resigned from Salzburg.
Red Bull and Rangnick had a similar philosophy, which he created.
It was also known as the “Three Ks” policy: Kapital Konzept, Kompetenz and Kapital.
“If those three things come together, then you can be successful. If you only have one or two of them, it’s more difficult,”Rangnick said.
Leipzig aren’t very popular in Germany partly because of their deep pockets. But Rangnick’s influence allowed the club to focus on youth development.
Timo Werner, Emil Peter Forsberg and Yussuf Poulsen soon emerged, and the likes of Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konaté and Dominik Szoboszlai would follow not long after.
This combined with an aggressive, assertive playing style made Leipzig one of Europe’s most exciting clubs.
“We truly believe in our systems. The players we have are willing to learn our style of play,”Rangnick stated in 2019.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What style do we want to play?’ After that we scouted, and signed the players who fulfilled our requirements.”
It is strange that this influential figure has remained so secretive over the past 20 years.
Rangnick’s brilliance is often heard in the wind, but Rangnick is considered more of a heralded entity than a football manager.
Even though his time is brief, he can offer Man United direction and purpose.
They need it now more than ever, and they know this for sure.