Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United under time pressure: upheaval under difficult conditions

After his team moved into the next round of the cup, Ralf Rangnick tried to highlight the positive.

But the Manchester United coach didn’t seem really satisfied with his team after the flattering 1-0 win against Aston Villa. “At least they try,” answered Rangnick when asked if his players listened to him and believed in his ideas. “I’m sure you are listening.”

With the implementation of the ideas of the soccer professor, who has been in office since the beginning of December, things have not worked out so well so far. Three wins, one draw and one defeat are not a bad record, but Rangnick has been criticized for the first time because the team has not played convincing football so far. The 1-0 win against Aston Villa also came off rather happily, with two goals from the guests not counting.

With his demanding style and the famous counter-pressing, the Man United professionals have a hard time – after only five weeks and many corona-related failures in the team, not necessarily surprising. The record champions played a different kind of football for years. A change takes time. But that is limited as an interim coach for Rangnick, who will switch to a consultant role from the summer.

Manchester United: 17 players want to change

According to the British media, the team is now beginning to have doubts about the former coach of Hannover 96, Schalke 04 and TSG Hoffenheim. There is talk of dissatisfaction in the changing room. Yet again. The fact that the catacombs of Old Trafford are seething is not a new phenomenon. Rangnicks predecessors David Moyes and Louis van Gaal noticed this. José Mourinho criticized the egoisms of the players, which apparently still exist in the current seventh in the table.

The newspapers “Mirror” and “Daily Mail” now even reported that a total of 17 players want to leave the club – either because they are dissatisfied with the overall situation or simply with their playing times. The arrival of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo last summer not only caused enthusiasm in the team.

However, Rangnick has so far been unimpressed by the change requests. It is unlikely that the alleged player revolt will be his undoing. Allegedly, the club management even encouraged him to weed out troublemakers.

Rangnick: “The system has to suit the players”

With a view to possible corona outbreaks, however, Rangnick currently seems to be more concerned about keeping the squad together. Anthony Martial is likely to leave the club. On the other hand, Donny van de Beek and substitute keeper Dean Henderson should stay. The situation is more complicated with Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, because their contracts expire in the summer.

There are many construction sites that Rangnick has to deal with. On the pitch, he moved away from his 4-2-2-2 system, which was not very popular with Man United fans, and tried other formations. “The system has to match the players who are available, that’s why we’ve changed that in the last two games,” said the 63-year-old, explaining the change. “In the long run it would be good to have a system and a style of play.”

Sustainable change or short-term success? At the moment, the two do not seem to be compatible. After the disappointing 0-1 in the league against Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Red Devils kept their best chance of a trophy this season by moving into the fourth round of the cup.

Rangnick-Elf has many top games in March

With 22 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, Man United has nothing to do with the championship in the ninth year after leaving coaching legend Sir Alex Ferguson. In the Champions League, where they face Atlético Madrid in the round of 16, the club cannot be counted among the favorites.

Ralf Rangnick can try different systems against opponents who are weaker on paper until the end of February. The coach must have found a system by March at the latest. Then, within 14 days, Manchester United will face defending champions Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Atlético Madrid and arch-rivals Liverpool FC. The time for experiments is over by then at the latest.


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