Should Man United get on course: Rangnicks rescue mission begins successfully

Should Man United get on track
Rangnicks rescue mission begins successfully

By Hendrik Buchheister, Manchester

England expects a revolution from Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United. The first impressions make you optimistic. In the 1-1 draw against Young Boys Bern, he surprised with an unusual line-up. The coach and his team have a decisive advantage in the league.

While the future could be seen on the lawn of Old Trafford, fans celebrated the past. It was no longer about anything for Manchester United in the final group game of the Champions League against the Young Boys from Bern, which is why interim coach Ralf Rangnick spared his A-list (David De Gea, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo …) and his own “Young.” Boys “mobilized. A total of six teenagers were used for the English record champions, some of them for the first time ever, and helped to generate a 1: 1. The audience was only moderately interested in the unambitious events and instead performed their arsenal of chants. They also celebrated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has had hero status at Old Trafford since his winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final against FC Bayern (“Who put the ball in the Germans’ net?”).

As a coach, the Norwegian has been known to have been less successful, and while he is eternally affectionate with the United community, even the greatest Solskjaer apologists should be relieved that he recently stepped down. Rangnick is his temporary successor as interim coach for the rest of the season. He was received with great expectations. Around his arrival last week, the English newspapers were full of stories about this alleged football revolutionary, the “Godfather of Gegenpressing”, who shaped entire generations of coaches in Germany. The first impressions justify the excitement. Rangnick immediately won over the press. With his flawless English, his interest in English football, his expert explanations of his game idea and – that too – with his sense of humor.

Special praise for Cristiano Ronaldo

In terms of sport, Rangnick’s debut was also successful, although this judgment is less based on the insignificant 1: 1 against the Young Boys, more on the 1: 0 last Sunday in the Premier League in his debut against Crystal Palace. Manchester United’s move from the usual 4-2-3-1 to Rangnick’s preferred 4-2-2-2 worked. The team had significantly more ball wins in the front third than usual – an indication that they are receptive to Rangnick’s teaching of high pressing. Cristiano Ronaldo, notorious for his unwillingness to work defensively, received special praise from the coach for his game against the ball (“Chapeau!”). The defense, which was so fragile in the final phase under Solskjaer, was in good shape.

A close win against a middle-class Premier League team is no reason to be exuberant, but after the many humiliations in recent weeks – 2: 4 against Leicester, 0: 5 against Liverpool, 0: 2 against Manchester City, 1: 4 against Watford – the 1-0 win against Crystal Palace for Manchester United was a pleasant reassurance of their own strength. In addition, Rangnick became the first German coach to start with a win in the Premier League. His successful colleagues Thomas Tuchel and Jürgen Klopp had not been granted a success at their debut at Chelsea and Liverpool.

Which speaks for Rangnick

If you watch Rangnick on the sidelines, the difference to Solskjaer is obvious. While the Norwegian mostly watched his team’s games in the dugout and the coaching was left to his assistants Mike Phelan and Kieran McKenna, Rangnick spends almost 90 minutes at the outer corner of his coaching zone, calling commands to the field and throwing his arms at goals in the air – almost as if he wanted to copy the emotional Tuchel and Klopp.

Nobody expects the first championship for Manchester United in eight years from Rangnick this season, the gap to Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea is too big, but fourth place and thus qualifying for the Champions League is a realistic goal. There are two things that suit Rangnick as he catches up. Firstly, recently injured Raphaël Varane, Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani are about to return, and secondly, in the notorious hectic phase of English football around Christmas, the schedule is gracious with Manchester United. The opponents until the end of the year are Norwich, Brentford, Brighton, Newcastle and Burnley. For the next game against a member of the current top trio, it will take until the beginning of March for a duel with Manchester City. The starting position to save Manchester United’s season is favorable for Rangnick.

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