Ralf Rangnick, the architect of RB Leipzig’s rise and the man widely regarded as the forerunner of much of modern German football, has been given the most high-profile post of his career, albeit on a temporary basis: the 63-year-old. Year-old Rangnick is expected to be named manager of Manchester United, perhaps as early as today.
After three tumultuous, emotional years, United finally said goodbye to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday, less than 24 hours after his side suffered a humble 4-1 defeat at Watford. That loss came just weeks after Solskjaer’s side, which was bolstered over the summer to include Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, was humiliated in quick succession at home by both Liverpool and Manchester City.
Michael Carrick, a member of Solskjaer’s coaching staff and, like him, a distinguished player during a ten-year career with the club, took the lead on Tuesday for United’s Champions League victory at Villarreal, but the team’s executives clearly had made that his appointment would be short.
In the wake of Solskjaer’s sacking, United had decided the best course of action was to appoint an experienced interim manager – to keep the club going until the end of the season – while acting as a replacement for the long term for Solskjaer. The club seemed to be working on the logic that a fuller field of candidates for the permanent position would be available in the summer.
While Ajax players Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino are the most compelling contenders for the full-time role, United have considered a number of readily available coaches for the caretaker position that has moved to Rangnick. Lucien Favre, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, and Rudi Garcia, a French champion with Lille, were both eligible.
However, it was Rangnick who quickly emerged as the frontrunner. He has spent much of the past decade establishing and refining the Red Bull network of clubs, holding positions at both Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig. He helped make the former a fixture in the Champions League and the latter in one of the most consistent clubs in Germany.
He gained fame, however, for leading Hoffenheim – a team with little or no history, based in the village of Sinsheim – from the lower echelons of German football to the Bundesliga and by teaching and playing an intense, fast-paced style of play. football that formed the theoretical basis for Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, among others. For many, Rangnick is the godfather of the German press game that now permeates most European top-level football.
He left the Red Bull group last summer and set up his own consultancy along with his longtime friend and confidant Lars Kornetka. The company had taken on a handful of clients, including Lokomotiv Moscow, hoping to leverage Rangnick’s experience and expertise in club building.
Those teams have accepted that Rangnick will put those projects on hold while he takes charge at United. His managerial role will only last until the end of the season. He will then take on the role of consultant at United once a new manager is appointed.