NYT > Sports
Ralf Rangnick, the architect behind the rise of RB Leipzig and the man who is widely regarded as the forerunner of much of modern German football, has landed the most prominent position of his career, albeit temporarily: the 63-year-old Rangnick is expected to be the manager of Manchester United appointed, maybe today.
After three tumultuous, emotional years, United finally parted ways with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday, less than 24 hours after his team suffered a humiliating 4-1 defeat at Watford. That defeat came just weeks after Solskjaer’s side, joined in the summer by players like Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, were humiliated at home by Liverpool and Manchester City in quick succession.
Michael Carrick, a member of the Solskjaer coaching staff and an excellent player in his decades-long playing career at the club, took United’s Champions League victory in Villarreal on Tuesday, but the team’s executives had made it clear that his deadline would be short .
After Solskjaer’s sack, United had decided that the best course of action was to appoint a seasoned interim manager – who ran the club until the end of the season – while considering a long-term replacement for Solskjaer. The club seemed to be working on the logic that there would be a larger field of candidates for the permanent position in the summer.
While Ajax’s Erik ten Hag and Mauricio Pochettino are the most compelling contenders for the full-time role, United have been considering a variety of immediately available coaches for the managerial position that went to Rangnick. Lucien Favre, formerly Borussia Dortmund, and Rudi Garcia, French champion with Lille, were considered.
However, it was Rangnick who quickly emerged as the front runner. He has spent much of the last decade building and refining the Red Bull network of clubs and has worked at both Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig. He helped to make the former into regular players in the Champions League and the latter into one of the most consistent clubs in Germany.
However, he became known by leading Hoffenheim – a team with little or no history from the village of Sinsheim – from the lower strata of German football to the Bundesliga and teaching and playing an intense, fast-paced style of football that provided the theoretical basis for greats like Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel trained. For many, Rangnick is the godfather of the German pressing game, which today permeates the largest European top football.
He left the Red Bull Group last summer and founded his own consulting company together with his long-time friend and confidante Lars Kornetka. The company had hired a handful of customers – including Lokomotiv Moscow – in the hopes of leveraging Rangnick’s experience and club building expertise.
These teams have accepted that Rangnick will put these projects on hold while he takes responsibility at United. His leadership role will only last until the end of the season. He will then take on an advisory role at United when a new manager takes office.