Manchester United in advanced talks to appoint Ralf Rangnick as interim manager

Manchester United are in advanced talks with Ralf Rangnick to become interim manager on a six-month contract at Old Trafford.

No formal deal has been signed yet and Lokomotiv Moscow, where Rangnick works as head of sport and development, must agree to release him from his contract. The offer of a consultancy role that Rangnick would hold at Old Trafford well past the end of this season would have had a significant impact on his thinking and willingness to come to United.

A long-term thinker, he is believed to have had frustrations with the limitations of an interim role, especially given the size of the project in the Russian capital, but United’s willingness to find a way to ensure that his involvement with the club was not short-lived helped to turn the situation in their favour.

The deal is not without its challenges due to the close collaboration between Rangnick and Lokomotiv. The German sees himself as a serious project at the club in which all parties have invested a lot of time and resources. Still, he doesn’t want to pass up the opportunity to coach United.

The 63-year-old former RB Leipzig coach was the United hierarchy’s first pick after an interview process that saw the club also hold talks with Rudi Garcia, Lucien Favre and Ernesto Valverde.

United started the search for an interim manager following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday morning following a 4-1 defeat at Watford, their seventh loss in 13 games, marking the end of the Norwegian’s reign just four months after he took a new three-year contract.

United want an experienced player to try and save their season and hope that once the deal is done, Rangnick can have the kind of impact on the rest of the season that Rafael Benitez and Guus Hiddink previously had at Chelsea.

Michael Carrick was put in temporary lead for Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Villarreal in Spain, which secured United a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winner. He will also oversee Sunday’s game against Chelsea, with Rangnick’s appointment unlikely to be ratified in time due to work permit restrictions if Lokomotiv gives the go-ahead.

United will turn their attention to the hunt for a permanent manager once the interim position is dissolved. It remains to be seen what impact Rangnick’s likely involvement at Old Trafford will have on that process.

Rangnick has been a huge influence on German football and was an innovator behind the ‘gen pressing’ philosophy later popularized by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

He has worked with Tuchel, Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann and Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl, all of whom hold him in high esteem. United feel he has the gravitas, authority and tactical knowledge to get their season back on track at a time when their Premier League rivals are managed by some of the most respected coaches in world football.

In addition to Leipzig, Rangnick previously led Schalke, Hoffenheim and Hannover, taking Ulm to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history. He has also held roles as football director at Red Ball Salzburg and Leipzig and United believe they will bring in a figure of considerable punch and expertise.

Rangnick is believed to have previously rejected Chelsea as they prepared to sack Frank Lampard ahead of Thomas Tuchel’s eventual appointment.

Contrary to reports, Valverde was not offered the position and the former Barcelona coach is believed to be the first of the candidates to be barred from the application process.

Godfather of the Gegenpress

Rangnick has built a reputation as one of the most innovative football brains in Europe, overseeing team building and infrastructure at newly wealthy clubs such as Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.

At 63, his resume is undoubtedly impressive enough for United, but instead of winning trophies, it’s the way he’s changed the philosophies and ideas of a generation of younger coaches in Germany, Austria and beyond.

He was at the forefront of the so-called Gegenpressing revolution, the Germanic expression for counterpressing adopted by so many of the country’s most famous coaches. The likes of Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel are some of his many disciples. Klopp previously described him as the “best German coach” still in the game.

There is no doubt that Rangnick was a visionary, who set many of the Bundesliga trends that are now widely adopted into mainstream football fashion across Europe.

He started his coaching career when he was only 25 years old and got his first break in Ulm 1846 in the lower divisions of Germany. Not afraid to be different, he was initially dismissed as the odd man out, dubbed the German professor in an attempt to mock his college lecturer appearance.

The spot ended when he won promotion with Hanover and narrowly missed the Bundesliga with Schalke in 2005. Backed by wealthy owners in Hoffenheim, he led the little-known regional club from the third tier to the top flight before returning to Schalke, where he won a German Cup.

His time in the dugout, however, has been limited since 2011 when he took on the role of sporting director at Leipzig, where he oversaw the club’s rise from the fourth tier to European power.

Since then, he has only worked as a manager on an interim basis, the most recent being in 2018/19. The guru of modern German football currently has a very well-paid job as football director at Lokomotiv Moscow, but appears to have been tempted by a short-term contract to return to work at Old Trafford.

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