I have to admit, recent news has left a sour taste in my mouth about the prospect of this.
As a Manchester United fan, it was an incredible bittersweet feeling watching Ralf Rangnick coming in to steer us through to the end of the 2021/22 campaign.
Namely, because I was one of the few who backed Ole from the start.
While I didn’t think he was the best choice when we had to terminate his contract with Molde following the sacking of Jose Mourinho in January 2019, he really did go some way to restoring some pride for Manchester United fans during that time.
We played very good football, did some good business and it finally felt like we were on some way to becoming a title challenger in the coming years under him.
But alas, football doesn’t always work out how it should on paper.
And before long, things went sour for Ole and Manchester United.
A misfiring front line and leaky back one rendered his position untenable by November 2021.
All until a 4-0 demolition away at Watford sealed his fate, whereby his sacking was confirmed a few days later, with the search for his successor already under way.
Given the coveted nature of a job like Manchester United manager, a number of high-profile names were inevitability linked with the now-vacant position at Old Trafford. The then-unemployed Antonio Conte was a particularly loud name among speculators.
United vocally rejected the Conte option in favour of a long-term solution.
This is where Ralf Rangnick came in.
Throughout his own career, Ralf Rangnick enjoyed a respectable managerial career in the top two Bundesliga competitions in Germany. Hoffenheim, Schalke and RB Leipzig remain among his admirers, before he regressed to a position further away from the touchline.
At the time of the speculation linking him with Manchester United, he had taken up executive football positions for the best part of the past decade. United even had to compensate Lokomotiv Moscow for his services as their interim manager.
The reason for this was for Ralf Rangnick to preliminarily take control of first team affairs until the end of the season, before becoming a consultant for the next two.
I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the first part of that sentence hasn’t been a success.
Since joining, Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United have seriously struggled.
Both to get a form of identity in their play and to yield the results that were needed.
Heralded as this ‘godfather of gegenpress football’, it was believed that he would be able to breathe some life into the squad to get them signing of a hymn sheet more positive to the one that got Ole sacked a few months earlier.
Instead, his win rate’s been worse and United could finish 7th or 8th this year.
An utterly embarrassing return given the financial investment in the squad.
But now, with Eric Ten Hag officially confirmed as the manager on a four-year deal following a very successful period with Ajax, the attention shifts as to a) how he will get on; and b) how Ralf Rangnick will continue to be involved in the football club.
Even trying to be as positive as possible, I don’t think he’ll be a roaring success.
For two reasons: the state of the club and where his own priorities will be.
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Beginning with the former, Manchester United is a rotten club.
Like completely – from the top-down.
Since the Glazers took over in 2005, the culture of the executive committee shifted from the welfare of the club as a football institution, to that of a completely commercial enterprise.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t anything new. United were floated on the NYSE in 1992 under different ownership (the one everyone wishes we still had), and have benefitted from this improvement in brand recognition as much as anyone.
But that’s meant that the business activity of the club are now being concluded by people who clearly haven’t showcased much interest in the sport or the fans.
Ralf Rangnick has mentioned struggles in the January window – and they’ll continue.
I do like Rangnick’s ownership of the issues and candour with the way he’s approached his media commitments as of late, but if he thinks he’ll get the money he wants, and will have genuine football conversations with his employers, he’s in for a nasty surprise.
Secondly, he’s now announced that he’s going to be Austria’s national manager.
And this is where I’m going to go off script and just vent a little bit.
Bear with me …
It’s not impossible to do two things at once, I understand that.
But how on earth can you expect someone to deal with more than one football group?
Suppose he’s asked to scout a game for Manchester United, but then needs to consult a first team manager of one of his main Austria players?
Or worse, what if United are linked with an Austria national player?
Would he be allowed to get involved in the transfer?
It also gives off the perception that he’s not all that interested in the club – or that the club don’t have enough confidence in Ralf Rangnick to make him full-time at the club.
Quite frankly, I don’t care if the commitments are different, or even if the schedule permits Ralf Rangnick to do his best for the club. The connotations behind the deal are that of a man who apparently might not care enough to make it his number one priority.
Fergie used to sell players who waned from being a total football man.
This is just (for me) another damning indictment of how far we’ve fallen since.