How Manchester United could line up under Ralf Rangnick


A new era at Manchester United is upon us with Ralf Rangnick set to be handed the reins at Old Trafford.

The German is expected to be named as the Red Devils’ interim coach on a six-month basis, before then leaving the hotseat to join the club’s hierarchy as a consultant for two years.

It’s a move which has gone down well with Red Devils fans, with the German a revolutionary in his homeland famed for mentoring the likes of Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel at their start of their now blossoming careers.

Klopp and Tuchel credit the 63-year-old for inspiring their own versions of Gegenpressing, a high-octane ball-recovery tactic he has implemented with his teams since the 1980s.

Rangnick is currently the head of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow and due to work permit issues, he will not be in charge for Sunday’s clash at Chelsea.

But who is Rangnick, how do his teams play and how could Man United line up under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s successor?

Born in Backnang, Germany, Rangnick studied at the University of Sussex where he used his time in England to play non-league football for Southwick.

Quickly realising his playing career was heading nowhere, a meeting with Dynamo Kiev in 1983 saw the famed Gegenpressing first formed.

From there Rangnick’s philosophy was shaped. He went on to take charge of Stuttgart, Schalke and Hoffenheim in the lower divisions of German football and had mixed spells with all three clubs.

What could this mean for United?

In the past, Rangnick has often used the unusual 4-2-2-2 formation which is rarely seen in the Premier League, which he believes is ideal to exploit the ‘red zones’.

Speaking to the Coaches Voice about this style when referencing Red Bull Salzburg’s system, he previously explained: “We decided on a formation that, in Germany and Austria, no other team has played – 4-2-2-2.

“A back four, two number sixes – one was more like an eight – two number 10s, and two strikers.

“[Sadio] Mane and Kevin Kampl didn’t play on the wing; they played in a ‘semi-position’ we called ‘the red zone’.”

With this formation in mind, talkSPORT has identified how United could look under Rangnick for the rest of the 2021/22 campaign.

David de Gea, who’s arguably been the Red Devils’ best player in their dreadful start to the campaign, will be safe in the XI.

At the back, however, changes could be imminent.

Last year, Rangnick said Luke Shaw ‘wasn’t on the level’ for United and that could see Alex Telles introduced as an offensive left-back in his system.

Shaw had a superb season last time out but has struggled to replicate his impressive campaign and Euro 2020 form into this campaign.

“I know they have Luke Shaw but I’m not so sure if he’s still on the same kind of level you need to be for a club like Manchester United,” Rangnick told Sky Sports in an interview in September 2020.

Despite Harry Maguire’s woeful start to the season, the club captain is likely to start with Raphael Varane at centre-back, whilst the more attacking Diogo Dalot may get the nod over Aaron Wan-Bissaka as Rangnick prefers his full-backs to be more offensive-minded.

In the 4-2-2-2 formation, Rangnick also prefers his deepest midfielders to be as mobile as possible.

When fully fit, Paul Pogba possesses too much quality to overlook and would have to return to the midfield alongside the more defensive Fred or Scott McTominay

“Jadon Sancho I think will be a real beneficiary of this if it all goes through,” he said on Thursday.

“Because he’s a guy who, you’ve gotta bear in mind, has been in German football.



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