Tag Archives: Ralf Rangnick

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In one of the biggest ties of the round, current reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid take on Premier League giants Manchester United for a place in the quarter-finals.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to Last 16

Atletico Madrid made it through to the knockout stages by the skin of their teeth in a poor group stage by their own standards.

Diego Simeone’s side suffered defeat home and away to Liverpool and they were beaten at home by AC Milan, but a final day win over FC Porto saw them claim the runners-up spot in the group.

They scored seven goals in the six games, conceding eight but crazily there were seven red cards in their group stage games too to show the frustration they carried.

Manchester United overcame a tough start to their group win finish top with a game to spare, despite changing managers during the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored in all five of his appearances to help United claim wins over Villarreal home and away and Atalanta at Old Trafford but they failed to beat lowly Club Brugge at all.

United scored a total of 11 goals int heir six group games, conceding eight and only managing to keep one clean sheet.

Team news

Atletico Madrid are facing several injury issues with all of Daniel Wass, Matheus Cunha and Yannick Carrasco ruled out of the game, while Thomas Lemar, Koke and Mario Hermoso doubtful.

Simeone was seen in training with a lineup consisting of a back-five, with January signing Reinildo as a centre-back, while Joao Felix and Luis Suarez could start together. Angel Correa is pushing for a start though following his good form.

Ralf Rangnick’s options are much better, with Edinson Cavani expected to be fit following a groin injury that has seen him miss the last few games.

Marcus Rashford has recently found himself on the bench after some poor form, so Anthony Elanga could get a start while Jadon Sancho will look to continue his excellent form. Ronaldo will continue up front.

Breakdown and Prediction

Atletico still have a reputation of being a defensive side with little intention to play attacking football, but that isn’t the case anymore.

The team have kept just three clean sheets since the turn of the year and have lost eight of their last 15 games in all competitions.

Manchester United on the other hand have been struggling with their performances in recent weeks, but the results haven’t taken a massive hit so far under Rangnick.

Across 90 minutes, they’ve lost just once since he became manager in 14 games but they’re yet to win three games in a row in all competitions this season. They won their last two, with a 3-0 win over Brighton and 4-2 win over Leeds.

This game is likely to be tight with both sides relatively low on confidence in their performance, despite the difference in their results.

Home advantage is likely to play a big part in both games, but I do feel that Man United will be able to progress because they have more goals in their team.

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United 2-1 Atletico Madrid
(Manchester United qualify 2-1 on aggregate)

Marcus Rashford will make you eat your words

It’s been a very tough season so far for Marcus Rashford and Manchester United.

Rashford missed the opening two months of the season after finally putting himself first and undergoing shoulder surgery, while also rehabbing an old ankle injury too.

He returned in decent form, scoring three goals in his first four appearances of the season despite the team being in a terrible place form-wise.



The manager was sacked, United were in a crisis and all eyes were on him to help the Reds climb out of their hole. He couldn’t deliver.

Rashford was still trying to get 100% fit at the time and United were trying to figure things out off the pitch.

In came Ralf Rangnick, who was tasked with getting the best from a top heavy squad at Old Trafford and getting them back on course. He immediately implemented a new formation and United’s struggles continued.

Rashford though looked even more out of place than previously. The joy from his game seemed like it was gone. He was playing in a new role that didn’t suit the team, was visibly frustrated by his and the team’s performances and couldn’t buy a goal for love nor money.

He was dropped from the team in favour of youngster Anthony Elanga, who came in and performed admirably but he lacked that X-factor that a team like Manchester United needs.

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United in action during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford...

Rashford came off the bench against Brentford to slam his first goal since win over Tottenham in November into the top corner, and then in the following game he came off the bench again to score a 93rd minute winner against West Ham.

There was a smile back on his face, the fans were back on his side and United are winning again. All is right with the world.

This is a player who barring the first five months of his professional career has seriously lacked a proper coach in his life.

Mourinho stifled his growth with his defensive style of play and insistence that he spend most of the game in a wing-back position rather than in attack.

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrates at the full time whistle during the Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham...

Then came Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who gave him great responsibility within the team, but failed to coach an actual style into the team despite spending three years in charge.

Rangnick came into the team and tried to implement new things hard and fast, and it was just too much for the squad – including Rashford – to deal with immediately.

The talent and ability never went anywhere and with Rangnick singing his praises, it’s clear he just needed a confidence boost. The German will likely bring him back into the starting fold soon enough and he will once again go on to become a key player in the side.

Talent doesn’t disappear overnight, and neither does attitude or commitment change in that time period.

Marcus Rashford of Manchetser United celebrates with team mates (L- during the Premier League match between Brentford and Manchester United at...

Rashford is a United fan who was down when United weren’t playing well, much like the rest of their fans. The difference is that he has a way of helping to change that, and therefore his responsibility bears more weight.

He’s going to grow as this season continues and he’s going to get better and better under actual coaching from Rangnick and whoever is brought in for next season and beyond.

Rashford is without doubt one of the best and most exciting forwards in the country and arguably the continent. He will make you eat your words, just wait and see.

What will it take for Donny Van de Beek to get a chance at Manchester United?

Another lacklustre performance from Manchester United under Ralf Rangnick, with the much-spoken about control completely missing from the game.

United crawled to a 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Monday night to progress to the FA Cup fourth round thanks to an early Scott McTominay header.

Villa were the dominant side on the night though, having two goals disallowed by VAR and missing a host of other chances throughout the 90 minutes as United failed to contain them.



Manager Rangnick once again opted for the ‘McFred’ duo in midfield and it started well with Brazilian whipping in a brilliant cross for the Scot to head home the opening goal.

But as the game went on it was clear that the ‘control’ Rangnick so often speaks about was once again missing, as Steven Gerrard’s side repeatedly walked through the middle of the pitch to create chances.

Somehow McTominay was given the man of the match award by BBC commentator Dion Dublin, but his performance was pretty poor even by his own standards.

Donny Van de Beek was brought on to the pitch with around 20 minutes to go as Rangnick changed the system to try and gain some control, and they stemmed the flow of the game in order to see out their victory.

It raised yet another question about the Dutchman’s chances in the side, with just one start to his name since the German’s arrival at the club.

When the team sheet was announced, fans immediately reacted negatively to the fact that he wasn’t in the side.

It seemed as though despite his obvious qualities on the ball in a position that the team are at their weakest, something is happening behind the scenes that means he isn’t being picked.

He wasn’t being called upon if the team were winning, losing or drawing, if performances were good or bad or even if the team was being rotated. So what is the point of him being here.

Add to that the fact that the midfield area is consistently underperforming in their duties on the pitch, and surely he is due a chance?

Donny van de Beek of Manchester United warms up ahead of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old...

Rangnick praised the control that Van de Beek brought to the midfield at the end of the game so surely now it’s worth giving him a run in the team?

He can’t be any worse than the current options and if he performs badly, then at least there is a reason for him to not be playing.

The same can be said for Jesse Lingard in the attacking positions, with all of the attackers underperforming and yet someone who has all the attributes that Rangnick waxes lyrical about is sitting on the bench struggling for minutes.

McTominay is suspended for the weekend which would provide another golden opportunity for Van de Beek to get in the team and show if he can provide what nobody else seems to be able to.

If he can’t, then there is literally no point in him being part of the squad and Rangnick should just allow him to leave during the January window.

The time is right for Anthony Martial to leave Manchester United

Manchester United are not short of quality attacking options in their squad currently, but that number could drop by one or two in January.

With Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes all vying for starting places, Anthony Martial has found first-team opportunities hard to come by recently.

This has led to his agent publicly announcing that the France international will look to leave the club in January.



This is a player who two seasons ago was the club’s top goalscorer and leading number nine for the whole season as they finished third in the Premier League.

It finally looked to be clicking for him after a thunderous start was somewhat curtailed by Jose Mourinho’s use of him as a substitute, while he was adamant about being a striker and now a left winger.

He was given that chance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who then brought in Cavani for added competition. Martial didn’t react to that particularly well, scoring just seven goals in a poor season and then United brought in Ronaldo.

Since then, Martial has been a shadow of himself. He has suffered with injury problems in his defence, but that raw ability that struck fear into opposition defences during his first season with the club has completely gone.

He has lost a couple of yards of his pace, he is reluctant to take players on when dribbling, he basically refuses to make runs in-behind the opposition defence and his finishing is nowhere near as reliable as it once was.

He has rightly fallen down the pecking order at the club with the emergence of Greenwood too, which means he just can’t secure a prolonged run in the first-team to get back into tip-top shape anymore.

Martial is now 26-years-old and is entering the prime years of his career. He needs to play regularly and is obviously talented enough to be first-choice at a successful club.

But right here, right now, Manchester United isn’t that club. They have better options than him for their systems, many of whom are younger than him.

Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham...

They have great academy talent coming through too who they will feel can replace him and with time still to run on his contract, they can probably get a pretty good sum of money for a want-away player.

It’s a deal that suits all parties at this point and ultimately is the right decision. If he goes on to be successful elsewhere, United shouldn’t be criticised for his sale, because he’s clearly talented.

For all the qualities he has, he isn’t the best option at Old Trafford now and losing him isn’t really going to put a dent in the squad.

Thanks for the memories Toto, but it’s time to go.

Diogo Dalot will never get a better chance to be first-choice for Manchester United

Sometimes in the world of elite sports, it takes an act of pure luck to stumble upon something that turns into a great decision.

Manchester United know this better than most. They were desperate to sign Alan Shearer once upon a time, but when he turned them down they instead signed Teddy Sheringham and won the treble.

They also would never have signed the catalyst for their success in the 1990’s, Eric Cantona, if they hadn’t received a phone call from Leeds enquiring about the availability of Denis Irwin.



So with a new manager in Ralf Rangnick taking charge recently at Old Trafford and everyone starting with a clean slate, full-back Diogo Dalot has another chance to make it at Manchester United.

The Portuguese defender has had a tough time at the club since joining under Jose Mourinho back in 2018 from FC Porto. He made 23 appearances in his debut campaign for the club, but in the two-and-a-half seasons that have followed he’s played just 21 times for them

He was loaned out to AC Milan last year and had it not been for an unsuccessful move for Kieran Trippier in the summer, he probably would have left on a permanent deal.

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United's Portuguese defender Diogo Dalot chat from their seats on the...

This season, Dalot barely featured under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before the Norwegian was sacked. He started in the League Cup and in the Champions League when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was suspended, and made some substitute appearances.

An injury to Wan-Bissaka’s hand meant he was handed a start by interim boss Michael Carrick against Arsenal where he played well, and Rangnick opted for an unchanged team against Crystal Palace a few days later.

He was then rested for the Champions League clash against Young Boys in midweek, where Wan-Bissaka’s performance caught the eye for all the wrong reasons. A bad night for him got even worse when on the final whistle he went crashing into the advertising hoardings and had to be stretchered off with a knee and wrist problem after the final whistle.

That paves the way for Dalot to get back in the team for the weekend’s clash against Norwich City and potentially secure a prolonged run in the team.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Manchester United lies injured during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Manchester United and BSC Young Boys at...

He won’t get a better chance to make that spot his own than now, because he is the better suited option for the way the German wants to play football.

Dalot is so much more comfortable on the ball and is capable of playing dynamic passes with both feet. He is also a willing runner with the ability to beat a man with dribbling, while his crossing is far superior.

Defensively he has more to learn and offer, but with coaching there is a solid young full-back there. That’s what Rangnick is looking for and that’s why he’s there, to help develop the raw talent at the club.

But his attacking skillset is so much better suited to the modern full-back of today’s game, where the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Joao Cancelo, Andrew Robertson and Alphonso Davies are key parts to their club’s successes.

Ralf Rangnick the interim / caretaker manager / head coach of Manchester United and Diogo Dalot of Manchester United at full time during the Premier...

A run in the team with a string of good performances under the new management will give the boss no reason to leave him out of the side when Wan-Bissaka is eventually fit again.

There is no time like the present and with Manchester United firmly in transition to a more attacking unit, the time is now for Dalot to step up and make a claim for the right-back spot.

What Manchester United fans learnt from Ralf Rangnick’s first win as manager

Manchester United earned back-to-back victories in the Premier League for the first time since September as Fred’s goal gave Ralf Rangnick a winning start as manager.

The German boss took over as interim manager until the end of the season following the win over Arsenal in midweek and named an unchanged team for the visit of Palace, who were set up to counter and attack United’s weaknesses.

The Reds turned in an excellent first half performance but they didn’t find the breakthrough until late on, when Fred whipped one into the top corner with his right foot from the edge of the box.



United learnt from the performance that there are some things to come and there are plenty of positives to take from it, but here are the ones I picked out.

Fred will love Rangnick

If it wasn’t obvious from the fact he got the winner, the Brazilian was excellent throughout. Many people expected an upturn in his fortunes with the arrival of a coach and a more structured system and it showed immediately.

The 28-year-old was quick in the press, more forward thinking with his passing and his tackling was as good as usual. This system is designed to get the best out of players like him and he is thriving in the heart of midfield.

Victor Lindelof enjoyed the responsibility

The Swede continued in the absence of Raphael Varane but he turned in one of the most assured performances of his Old Trafford career.

Lindelof was excellent on the ball, brave to pinch the ball early on the halfway line and constantly organising his midfielders ahead of him too. He did well to completely nullify the threat of Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard up front while also helping Diogo Dalot get forward and track Wilfried Zaha. A top performance.

Attacking full-backs

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was a staple of the defence but it seems as though his position may not be so secure anymore.

Rangnick opted to stick with Dalot and the Portuguese defender turned in an excellent display, with great confidence on the ball and a real threat up and down the wing. With the full-backs keeping a high starting position, the attacking abilities are important and Dalot could be a big winner in this change.

Manchester United Head Coach / Manager Ralf Rangnick congratulates Diogo Dalot of Manchester United at the end of the Premier League match between...

Free flowing attack

United pressed high and were impressive off the ball in the game, but the performances of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho were also positives in an attacking sense.

Both men pressed well and they linked well together in and around the box as United touched the ball more times in the opponents penalty area than in any game since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

While neither were directly involved in the goal, it showed that they can be key figures in the side and that can only be a positive for Manchester United.

Ralf Rangnick can find out exactly where Manchester United stand against Arsenal

Manchester United play host to long-time rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League tonight, and it’s the start of a new era.

The Reds have seen two games go relatively well results wise since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following a poor run, with a 2-0 win over Villarreal followed up with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge vs Chelsea.

Michael Carrick has been the man in charge of those fixtures, and has vehemently denied that new interim manager Ralf Rangnick had any input on team selection and tactics.



But after being officially announced as the interim manager until the end of the season, Rangnick will surely have input on this game despite not being in the dugout for it.

The German is still working through the visa process and won’t be able to officially take charge of the team against Arsenal, but reports say he has already been looking at training tapes and analysing previous games to be able to hit the ground running when he does eventually take charge.

But with that time edging ever closer, it won’t be beyond the realms of possibility that he has a big say in team selection and training methods leading into this game.

Even if he isn’t though, this is a game where he will finally be able to see what the team is truly made of and the size of the task he has taken on. While Villarreal are a good team in their own right, United are supposed to be beating them.

Head coach of Manchester United Michael Carrick and Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo during Champions League match between Villarreal...

Chelsea are a team right now that would cause any team to adapt their tactics slightly too, so it’s no surprise United went extra defensive in that sense.

But against Arsenal, at Old Trafford and with a win desperately needed in the Premier League, they have to go for it. The fans will be right behind them, the players should be up for it to impress the new boss and they are playing against a team who have their own issues.

This isn’t an Arsenal team that have been particularly impressive recently, despite their results. Mikel Arteta is still learning on the job and while his side have started to somewhat resemble what he has been speaking about since being in charge almost two years ago, they still have glaring weaknesses.

On paper, the United squad is considerably stronger than Arsenal’s and they have the ability to put this team to the sword if they are firing. But that’s a big ‘if’ considering recent form, and Arsenal will be raring to go against a wounded animal.

Jadon Sancho of Manchester United celebrates scoring their first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at...

If United can show their true level they should win this game. If they perform below it, then it’s very possible they get beaten and fall even further down the table in the race for a top four place.

But one thing that will be sure, is that Rangnick will have a much better idea of his task after 90 minutes at Old Trafford. Whether he can turn it around or build on it, is a different question entirely.

Cristiano Ronaldo is Manchester United’s poison and medicine

Manchester United secured a huge point away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but bigger than the result was Michael Carrick’s decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo.

United started the game in a 4-3-3 shape with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho flanking Bruno Fernandes as the striker, with all of Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic playing in midfield.

The Reds took the lead in the second half as Sancho pounced on a Jorginho error to slot past Edouard Mendy, before the Italian converted a penalty to ensure a nervy finish.



Ronaldo wasn’t on the pitch when United went ahead but had been called upon by Carrick before the penalty decision, while he was largely anonymous on the field for the rest of the game.

Carrick implemented a high press to try and force Chelsea into errors higher up the pitch, but the home side managed to cope fairly well for the most part.

While some speculated that the incoming Ralf Rangnick may have had something to do with the team selection and decision to drop Ronaldo, Carrick completely ruled that out and it was pretty clear from the style that the German had no involvement.

But what it did offer up were some questions about how Ronaldo will fit in going forward.

Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo replaces Manchester United's English striker Jadon Sancho in the second half during the...

The Portuguese forward is the club’s top goalscorer this season with ten goals, but the Premier League has proved tough for him with just four goals in nine appearances so far. His lack of defensive nous means United are often a man down when it comes to the transitions and keeping clean sheets.

Despite that though, he has proven to be United’s saviour on several occasions already. He scored twice on his debut in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, scoring the opening and go-ahead goals in the game.

He scored the equaliser against West Ham, the opener against Young Boys, the winner against Villarreal at home, the winner in the home game against Atalanta, the opener against Tottenham, both goals in a 2-2 draw with Atalanta away and the opener in the return game against Villarreal too.

All of his goals to date have been meaningful and contributed towards United winning points. So how is it that someone so important can also potentially be a hinderance to the current United squad going forward?

Ultimately, that is the case. His defensive frailties don’t help the side whatsoever on the pitch, but going forward you can’t just ignore how good he is when it comes to being clinical and winning you games.

Forward of Manchester United Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate after scoring the 0-1 goal with his teammate during Champions League match between...

With Ronaldo now 36-years-old, you get what you’re given with him at this point. United knew what he offered when they signed him and they did it anyway. To his credit, he has performed too.

For United and Rangnick now, the task remains the same. They need a cohesive defensive unit on the pitch, which also contains Cristiano Ronaldo in attack to have the perfect balance to win games, especially at the highest level.

The Portuguese legend is currently both a poison and a medicine to the Manchester United squad, but United must now find a way to perfectly balance the doses of each.

Ralf Rangnick: A complete insight into Manchester United’s new interim manager

Football is very simple, players will follow you if they can see you are making them better and my job is to always make a player better.

Well into his 60’s, Ralf Rangnick has been involved in football for decades. He was almost always born to be a manager, from the age of just six years old he was always trying to improve people around him, not only in football but in life.

Rangnick has never had a flashy job, he’s not that spoken about outside of Germany, however his influence on football is one in which goes back a long time and has shaped the modern game today.



Rangnick, like Marcelo Bielsa in many ways, doesn’t do things the way in which normal managers would and he doesn’t look at football like other managers of his generation did.

Also like Bielsa, Rangnick has a slew of managers in the modern game in which he has helped mould and shape. Two of these managers have won the Champions League in the last 3 years playing in a style that has the markings of Rangnick all over it. With front foot, high pressing, high discipline and quick countering styles.

The two managers he has had the biggest influence over are current Liverpool and Chelsea managers Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel. However all of Julien Nagelsmann, Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and Ralph Hasenhuttl have all seen and taken parts of Rangnick’s philosophy over the years, and adopted them into their current set ups.

Klopp has stuck to the absolute conditions of what Ralf would consider a great team, implementing and bringing to the UK the biggest component of a Rangnick team, that of ‘Gegen-pressing’.

Head coach Ralf Rangnick of Schalke and head coach Juergen Klopp of Mainz smile before the Bundesliga match between Schalke 04 and FSV Mainz 05 at...

Gegen-pressing, or counter-pressing, is something that is widely used now in various different versions. Klopp and Pep have their own way of using it, but Klopp has Rangnick’s exact philosophy and set up for it which is smash mouth, in your face and complex press triggers that opponents will struggle to work out.

It’s extremely important to bring up Gegen-pressing as Rangnick is someone seen as the godfather of football in Germany. He ditched the much used ‘sweeper’ system in favour of this more aggressive style, with fast wide players operating high up the pitch, a target man used to cut off passing lanes, high full-backs and a three man midfield that press like crazy.

When you consider that, you can see the Liverpool model. So it’s understandable why people like myself who have watched Rangnick’s teams over the years play a brand of football that to me, is the most beautiful to watch.

So, what we can expect from Rangnick at Manchester United given this team has had many years of poor management and not enough coaching in general?

I can break it down in five things that Ralf speaks about in great length any time anyone asks his philosophy.

1. “What happens if we have the ball? How do we want to play? How do we play against a low block, a high press, a counter attacking team?”

He has meticulous planning for every situation and it will not be left to the players to work out. They will have session, drills, structures and patterns put in place of where they should be and how to deal with situations faced in game. But, importantly, it also will allow for them to have creative freedom in the final third.

This will be nice to hear for United fans who were told just this week by their longest standing player and goalkeeper, “We do not know what we are supposed to do with the ball.”

2. “What do we want to do if the other team has the ball? How do we want to defend that? What kind of game plan, match plan, information do I give my players to deal with this? It’s simple for me, our football is heavy metal, rock and roll, we want the ball back as fast as possible.”

3. “What happens in the moment we lose the ball?
4. “What happens in the moment we win the ball back?

Rangnick had a clock scoreboard added to the RB Leipzig training complex that had a countdown timer of eight seconds.

‘The eight second rule’ is adopted by a lot of top coaches to this day, if you lose the ball anywhere on the pitch, you have 8 seconds of intense press before you revert back to shape.

Head coach Ralf Rangnick is seen training session of German Bundesliga second division team RB Leibzig in Leipzig on July 3, 2015

The press triggers are abandoned at this point and it involves the entire team cutting passing lanes and getting the ball back as fast and as aggressively as possible, allowing for what they call in Germany ‘chance auf Volumen’ a chance of volume or, ‘high volume chance’ a break away and movement that allows for the highest chance of success of a goal.

It is implemented as in those eight seconds, the opponents are disorganised and the player taking it under control doesn’t have the time to control it properly and assess their options when overwhelmed with often three or four vs one, and will either kick it long, or relinquish possession, allowing for quick vertical passes (Rangnick likes this to be under three passes) for a shot at goal.

This exact philosophy and play-style was used during his time with Leipzig in 18/19 and 60% of their goals were scored after they won the ball back in under ten seconds.

5. “The final component is set pieces, 30% of all goals are scored either on or straight after a set piece so, as coaches, you need to be alert to that and as 30% of all goals are scored in this manner, I commit 30% of my training to set pieces.”

Ralf Rangnick is a special kind of coach. He is in the business as he wants to improve players. He also has been in the mind frame for Man United for almost ten years, ever since his Schalke side played Manchester United and despite a heavy defeat, his play-style was admired by many there.

Ralph Rangnick, head coach of Leipzig reacts during the UEFA Europa League Group B match between RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig at on November 29, 2018...

Over the years he has been used for some consultancy work on a wide variety of topics that Man United needed help on, future manager profiles, player profiles, youth team approaches and training approaches.

He has, while minor in the grand scheme of things, been a part of United for many years behind the scenes and he has never hidden his desire to manage United one day.

How will it work at Manchester United with the players we have?

Manchester United, willingly or unwillingly, have actually built a team very close to what Rangnick would like in his own set ups. His age profile is usually 18-24 however, a lot of Manchester United players are in that age bracket or just outside of it and they have pace, one of the key components that you cannot teach.

They may lack the stamina at the start but, this is something that can be taught and coached. Even with Ronaldo, the play-style that Rangnick would implement can be absolutely successful and I will try to explain the core principles of his pressing that a lot of United players will have drilled into them.

I can see Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Donny Van De Beek, Fred and Bruno Fernandes used a lot under him.

When the opponent has the ball I would expect United to adopt a 4-3-3 style formation, with the front 3 pressing up against the opponents box and one of the midfielders standing close to an outlet in the midfield.

The main reason for this is to get the goalkeeper to play the ball out to a centre back, close off the angles and offer up an option around the midfield that can be the trigger to press.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.png

So, the keeper has the ball, Ronaldo is blocking off the opposing team’s defensive midfielder, Sancho and Rashford have the full-backs covered. They want the keeper to pass it to number 2 or 4 in the image above. So, imagine the ball is passed to number 2 in the image above, what would that change about the shape.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-4.png

Ronaldo would push in between the goalkeeper and centre backs, Bruno would take up Ronaldo’s position, Rashford and Sancho would become more aggressive in their press leaving what seems a free, easy pass out.

But, if you look, this is the trigger, now the team is in a lot of danger. Their full-backs are split, their centre backs are split and they are about to get in to a four man press on one player.

At this point, it’s fast, aggressive pressing from Rashford, Fernandes, Van De Beek and Fred, leaving them with this situation.

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From here, it’s unlikely the player will be able to do anything but lose the ball. All that’s left then is in under two passes Rashford, Fernandes, Fred or Van De Beek get the ball and get it to Ronaldo as fast as possible, giving him a very high volume chance.

From here, Ronaldo would not be required to be sprinting around. He would have Sancho, Rashford, Van De Beek, Fred and Fernandes for that. Ronaldo’s sole job is once the keeper has released the ball to either CB he goes and cuts off the passing lane to him.

He is already very good at this, and while you can say a lot about Ronaldo doesn’t press but, his on pitch positioning when cutting off passing lanes is actually one of the best around at the moment.

You can see these types of patterns in the below video if you watch it all the way through.

The fact Rangnick’s strikers aren’t required to be the main presser is actually a plus side with United having Ronaldo here. It also would not surprise me if he utilised Edinson Cavani as a wide player on some occasions due to his relentlessly high energy and willing pressing.

Should Man United fans be excited?

Absolutely. Anyone that has followed me on social media for the last month or two will know I have been banging the drum for Rangnick for a reason.

He is tactically flexible, playing a 3-4-2-1, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-2-2-2 system and he will play them at a high proficiency, as he will get time over these seven months on the training pitch to drill this into the players.

But the main reason I advocated for Rangnick is he can shape a club from top to bottom and he loves that responsibility.

If I had to guess going from this appointment, the most likely successor will be Ten Hag in the summer as opposed to Pochettino. Both Ten Hag’s and Rangnick’s philosophies are intertwined. They are a match made in heaven.

Coach Ralf Rangnick of Hoffenheim reacts during the Bundesliga match between FC St. Pauli Hamburg and1899 Hoffenheim at Millerntor Stadium on August...

Over the years, Manchester United have been jumping from one manager to the next with no plan, Rangnick can implement a modern style and a plan for the club over the next five years. United will be fun, exciting, energetic and very difficult for teams to deal with once he does get his messages across.

I don’t think it will happen instantly, however I think there will be a day and night difference between the team we see now who have absolutely zero idea what to be doing on the ball compared to in a few months time where it will be autonomous.

We have all seen that terrific clip of Rangnick explaining that if Pep, Tuchel, Klopp, himself and Hasenhuttl all went to their players at 11pm to say “come downstairs in one hour and we will do 2x 15 minutes 11v11” they would do it automatically. They would make the same movements almost in their sleep as it is in their hearts, their minds, their blood that this is how they play and they will not deter from it.

All I can say is, finally. Manchester United have one of the best Technical Directors around and a man in whom many of the top coaches looked up to and still do, to this day.

Ralf Rangnick to take over Manchester United as interim manager

Manchester United have agreed a deal with Ralf Rangnick to take over as manager for the rest of the season, before moving into a consultancy role.

The club sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a 4-1 defeat to Watford to make it four defeats in six Premier League games, pushing them down to eighth place.

But the club have now agreed to having Rangnick take charge on a temporary basis until the end of the season, ending speculation surrounding Mauricio Pohettino.



The club announced when they sacked Solskjaer that they would be looking to bring in an interim manager until the end of the season, but speculation about PSG boss Pochettino joining immediately had intensified in recent days.

However the most recent reports claimed that the French giants weren’t interested in letting their manager leave mid-season, and it now seems as though talks have ended until the end of the current campaign.

Rangnick comes in with a huge reputation, with many giving him the nickname as the ‘Godfather of German football’. He is credited with bringing gegen-pressing to the top level, a system that Jurgen Klopp has brought on leaps and bounds.

The German is currently in a technical director role with Lokomotiv Moscow but he will leave that position to join United on an initial six-month managerial deal, before a two-year deal begins for a consultancy role.

It’s believed Manchester United will pursue either Pochettino or Erik ten Hag as their permanent appointment from the summer, but Rangnick will be able to set the foundations from a tactical stand point and be able to get a hands on approach for his future role too.

Rangnick won’t be in charge for United’s trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday as he awaits a work permit, but the club are hopeful he will be in charge for the game against Arsenal next Thursday.