Ralf Rangnick has been confirmed as Manchester United’s interim manager until the end of the season.
The 63-year-old German has left his role as director of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United on a six-month contract until the end of May.
Rangnick will then stay on at Old Trafford in a consultancy role for a further two years, although it’s possible he could land the manager’s job on a permanent basis if results go well.
Ralf Rangnick has finally been confirmed as Manchester United’s interim manager
Rangnick is highly regarded in the game and is nicknamed ‘the godfather of gegenpressing’
United chose Rangnick from a shortlist of five candidates last week but have been negotiating his release from Lokomotiv while the former Schalke, Hoffenheim and Hanover boss applied for a work permit.
That process is ongoing so it remains to be seen if Rangnick will be in the dug-out for Thursday’s game against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
Caretaker manager Michael Carrick, who has overseen a Champions League win over Villarreal and Sunday’s draw at Premier League leaders Chelsea, will remain in charge if Rangnick cannot begin work immediately.
It’s understood that Solskjaer’s back-room team – assistant Mike Phelan, coaches Carrick and Kieran McKenna, and goalkeeper coach Richard Hartis – will all remain at United even though Rangnick will bring in a few of his own staff including trusted video analyst Lars Kornetka.
United insist that Rangnick was always their No 1 candidate and he impressed during an interview with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, football director John Murtough – who spent time with Rangnick when he was at RB Leipzig in 2019 – and technical director Darren Fletcher.
They believe his experience over four decades in football will be invaluable in helping the team for the rest of the season and then advising the club for two years after that.
United announced the news on Monday, saying: ‘Manchester United is delighted to announce the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager until the end of the season, subject to work visa requirements. Following this period, Ralf and the club have agreed that he will continue in a consultancy role for a further two years.
‘Michael Carrick will remain in charge of the first team until Ralf’s work visa is finalised. The club wishes to place on record its thanks to Lokomotiv Moscow for their co-operation in the process of bringing Ralf to Manchester United.’
Rangnick spoke for the first time about his move to Old Trafford, saying: ‘I am excited to be joining Manchester United and focused on making this a successful season for the club. The squad is full of talent and has a great balance of youth and experience.
‘All my efforts for the next six months will be on helping these players fulfil their potential, both individually and, most importantly, as a team. Beyond that I look forward to supporting the club’s longer-term goals on a consultancy basis.’
Michael Carrick will stay in charge against Arsenal if Rangnick’s visa hasn’t been approved
Gary Neville was quick to take to Twitter to commend the appointment of Rangnick at United
United’s football director John Murtough added: ‘Ralf is one of the most respected coaches and innovators in European football. He was our number one candidate for Interim Manager, reflecting the invaluable leadership and technical skills he will bring from almost four decades of experience in management and coaching.
‘Everyone at the club is looking forward to working with him during the season ahead, and then for a further two years in his advisory role.’
Carrick denied before and after the Chelsea game on Sunday that Rangnick had any influence over his team selection or tactics after he dropped Cristiano Ronaldo to the bench and implemented a higher press at Stamford Bridge.
Sky Sports pundit and United hero Gary Neville suggested that Rangnick picked the team and was in touch with the coaching staff to offer guidance as the game was unfolding, with Darren Fletcher pictured wearing an earpiece in the dugout. Club sources insist that Fletcher was speaking to analysts in the stands.
‘A lot of people having a go at Michael Carrick for dropping Ronaldo and picking that MDF,’ Neville wrote on Twitter. ‘I’ve a feeling the the incoming manager has picked that team as it’s a huge departure from midweek and what they’ve been doing.’
United legend Neville was quick to commend the appointment on Rangnick on Monday, saying on Twitter: ‘Welcome to the Greatest Football Club in the World Ralf Rangnick. A contract for 6 months to coach the team A contract for 2 years to coach the club.’
Rangnick will be tasked with galvanising United’s season and steering them back into the top of four of the Premier League standings. They are currently eighth, five points behind West Ham in fourth.
United held Premier League leaders Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday – Jadon Sancho put United ahead before Jorginho equalised from the penalty spot.
United’s Darren Fletcher appeared to communicate with Rangnick via earpiece at Chelsea
United drew 1-1 at Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday, with Jadon Sancho scoring
Rangnick boasts an impressive footballing pedigree – renowned as the ‘Godfather of Gegenpressing’, the German has significantly influenced a number of leading coaches in the game such as Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann.
Rangnick has drawn comparisons with his and Klopp’s tactical ideas. In an interview with the Coaches Voice in September, he said: ‘Our idea is clear: it’s very, very similar to my almost-coaching friend Jurgen Klopp.
‘Our football is very heavy metal, rock and roll and it’s not slow balls. It’s not square passes, back passes. Just having the ball ourselves doesn’t make sense.’
Klopp has been equally complimentary of Rangnick.
‘Unfortunately a good coach is coming to England so that’s how it is, to Manchester United,’ Liverpool boss Klopp said, when asked about Rangnick last Friday.
‘Ralf is obviously a very experienced manager, built famously two clubs from nowhere to proper threats and proper forces in Germany with Hoffenheim and (RB) Leipzig.
‘Been to lot of different jobs in football but always his first concern actually was being a coach, being a manager and that’s what his best skill is. United will be organised on the pitch I think we should realise that and that’s obviously not good news for other teams.’
Jurgen Klopp is one of a number of esteemed coaches to have been influenced by Rangnick
Ragnick (left) has a deep admiration for English football, having studied in England aged 21
Rangnick also studied in England in his early 20s, a time that forged his love of English football. He played for non-league club Southwick FC.
Attention now will turn on which players at United can fit into Rangnick’s style of play. Ronaldo will shoulder most of the scrutiny after being benched at Chelsea, while Rangnick has previously also been critical of Luke Shaw.
When quizzed about United last year, Rangnick said: ‘I think that they could do with a left-back.
‘I know they have Luke Shaw but I’m not so sure if he’s still on the same kind of level you need for a club like Manchester United.’
And Jamie Carragher questioned whether Rangnick is going to have time to get his methods across to the United squad, especially with December being the most hectic time in the footballing calendar.
‘There’s a clear plan of what he wants to do,’ Carragher said on Sky Sports on Sunday. ‘When you watch Man United you’re not quite sure what they’re doing.
There will be scrutiny on Ronaldo’s place in the United setup under Rangnick’s guidance
Rangnick has also previously questioned whether Luke Shaw is up to United’s standard
‘There’s no exact science on how to win a football game, but United have not had a clear plan.
‘This guy has got a clear plan. The problem he’s going to have is his plan is chalk and cheese to United.
‘There are five or six players who you think aren’t going to fit into that system. This needs to be coached, this isn’t something you work on and it’s done in a week. It’s difficult to find the time to train.’