By the time Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored arguably his most famous goal for Manchester United in 1999, Ralf Rangnick had already been competing as a coach for around 16 years.
Now aged 63, Rangnick has more experience than the majority of current elite coaches. He is regarded as an educator in the footballing world; an expert scholar who has a number of disciples in the modern game due to his willingness to pass on his knowledge to potential successors throughout his career.
Manchester United are set to appoint him as their interim head coach for the rest of the season, and supporters are understandably eager to witness the playing style that Rangnick will implement at Old Trafford, which is exciting, fast and entertaining. according to his own words.
The rest of the campaign promises pressing and offensive football, but Rangnick’s real impact could happen once his time in the dugout ends, with the German set to assume a consultancy role afterwards.
Rangnick has undeniable credentials as a coach, having delivered relative success at Ulm, Hoffenheim and VfB Stuttgart in particular, but arguably his most impressive achievements have stemmed from his decisions in the boardroom.
He was appointed as the main man to guide Red Bull’s footballing exploits some years ago, with the energy drink company wishing to make an impression on the pitch in a way that represented their principles as a brand.
Red Bull represents vitality, youth and spirit as a company and Rangnick recognised that. He set about aligning the team with the target market — with that being people aged between 16 and 25 — by signing youthful players who had the necessary skills to execute a radical playing style.
Both Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig represent a similar approach today; pressing, intensity, direct play and youthful players are prioritised by the clubs, and the key selling points of the energy drink are upheld.
Hoffenheim were not an established Bundesliga club before Rangnick, now they are. Leipzig were not an established Bundesliga club before Rangnick, now they are.
He encouraged the implementation of global scouting network at Red Bull, in which players from overlooked areas were targeted before graduating through the system, almost like school to college to university.
Liverpool’s Naby Keita is a suitable example; he progressed from Salzburg to Leipzig and reached a level whereby he was warranted good enough for an Anfield switch.
As a person who grasps infrastructure and alignment from top to bottom, Rangnick is a true footballing expert. He is likely to deliver encouraging performances on the pitch for the rest of the season but ultimately, United could feel the real benefits of his involvement in years to come.
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