Written by By Associated Press
ITV BEACHWOOD, England — A tough, tenacious defender, Ralf Rangnick is preparing to make the most of a rare second chance to win trophies with Manchester United and turn around a disappointing spell of football.
Now wearing the manager’s arm-candy suit and luxuriant hair — his laid-back look is mocked by some colleagues, but little tarnishes Rangnick’s persona — he inherits a club that has missed out on the Premier League title for three consecutive seasons. It’s a position that’s rarely had a full-time manager at the club since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
In no hurry to do so, United is underperforming and under-investing in its team, leading to tensions with goalkeeper David de Gea over pay and Rangnick showing few surprises.
“I have the chance now,” Rangnick said this week. “I am working with Man United again. Everything is possible.”
The first major decision Rangnick will make will be over the club’s defensive situation — two men were shown the door during a thumping 2-0 loss to Everton on Saturday that continued United’s struggles in the league.
Rangnick told many players last year to ditch their private jets for trains, so he has a taste for the commutes.
“If someone doesn’t want to have a private plane, they are not going to get a second chance,” Rangnick said. “That is very clear. If we have a say in this, then we can say to certain players, they are not going to do it.”
The new manager also has to decide on his central defenders. Victor Lindelof was bought for 50 million pounds ($65 million) in the offseason from Benfica, but is not always trusted by teammates and David de Gea has grown tired of being under pressure on the goal. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are also underperforming but Rangnick has said he believes they can turn their form around.
The style of football that Rangnick expects from United “a bit more adventurous” is in stark contrast to the cautious, possession-based, pass-and-move style that took the team to three Premier League titles.
The method could not work again with manager Jose Mourinho this time.
“What I like so much about Ralf is his mind-set and his way of thinking,” said United assistant manager Michael Carrick, who has worked under Rangnick for seven years and is returning to the side after injury. “I love working with him because he loves doing things his way. It has been difficult because it’s been his way all of his life.
“But you know he wants the best for you as a player. And obviously that’s what you want.”
But, with the top four in the running to be decided by Wednesday’s last day of the season, Rangnick faces a challenge in trying to attract the players he wants. He won’t have won the club’s biggest trophies — the Champions League, Premier League or FA Cup — and Mourinho will be there when the Uefa competition kicks off in February.
“In the first year that he came, it was first win (of the club) in 39 years,” Carrick said. “Now he has just won the German cup in a European championship.”
“He gets a bit of stick because of that last year with Bayern. But he got in the Champions League and they have a really good squad coming back. That is something you cannot argue with.”
Rangnick led Bayern Munich to a third-place finish in his second season after leading it to the Bundesliga title in his first. He’s yet to win domestic league titles.
Rangnick’s highest point on the international stage came when he led Germany to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup. Now 57, he acknowledges he is a long way off matching the achievements of his mentor.
“You have to give Mourinho and (Ronald) Koeman the credit for doing what they are doing,” Rangnick said. “Koeman is really efficient. Mourinho will have to come out and show that because of the way he is doing things he is attracting big players.”