In a piece of news that everyboy by now will know, former RB Leipzig manager and director of football Ralf Rangnick will be appointed as interim manager of Manchester United until the end of this season.
The German that is more commonly known as the professor of Gegenpressing football is tasked with steadying the United ship that has been sinking since the start of the season.
While his role as manager will last until the end of this campaign, Rangnick will stay at the club for a further two years in a consultancy role, which excites many supporters due to his previous work in similar positions.
However, as a manager, Rangnick will bring tons of experience and a level of coaching that hasn’t been at the club in some time — you can read more on his philosophy, tactics and suitability to the United squad here.
There will certainly be a number of players that will benefit from this appointment including the likes of Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard, who saw themselves have limited roles under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, but a select few could hit impressive heights under the professor.
After inconsistencies in his performances in the last 12 months, Fred will most definitely be an integral part of the team that the German manager operates with.
The style in which Rangnick likes his teams to play in involves high energy in the middle of the park, matched with progressive actions as he looks to punish teams quickly after turnovers.
Fred has always shown his talents as a tenacious and active midfielder but has not always been able to get the best out of his own game — partly due to his own inconsistencies, but also because of the lack of structure in the team as a whole.
An improved pressing structure — which is sure to come with the appointment of Rangnick — and a better level of in-possession coaching could very well do Fred the world of good.
It was only in Spain last Tuesday where the Brazilian midfielder showcased his ability out of possession by winning the ball back for both of the goals for Michael Carrick’s side against Villarreal.
With a much-improved pressing structure, Fred’s biggest strength would be maximised, and with the intense coaching that Rangnick operates with, he will hopefully be able to offer more a more solid and consistent on-ball game, as he has more than shown that he has the ability to play through the thirds with firm passes into his forward men.
It’s ultimately whether or not Fred can cut out his sloppy mistakes, which do often come because of a lack of build-up structure. There’s no doubt that the 28-year-old midfielder will be one that the new manager will be interested in utilising.
Of course, Raphaël Varane will be a crucial part of the side going forward. With Harry Maguire completely out of form, it’s looking like Victor Lindelöf could get increased minutes until the Englishman finds his form of last year. But, the glue in the defence will certainly be the ex-Real Madrid central defender.
In Rangnick’s highly energised, pressing system, he also places emphasis on the defenders to step up and tightly mark the oppositions forward men so that they can more easily suffocate the on-ball player, and hopefully win the ball back.
The German spoke on the importance of this during The Coach’s Voice in September. “If you play aggressive high pressing, you need to make sure that the defenders, no matter if you play with two or three central defenders, that they make sure that the only two or two players that the other team has got up front are being marked.
“They have to be closely marked,” Rangnick explained. “Because those two players or this one player is the only player that might be able to [escape pressure] if we allow them to control the ball.“
From what we’ve seen from Varane so far, it’s quite clear that his profile is very suitable for this way of playing.
The Frenchman has certainly shown the ability to be aggressive out of possession, averaging 7.33 pressures per 90 in the league so far this season as per Fbref — 2 of which are made in the middle or attacking third of the pitch.
He’s also shown to be active in the tackle and can also read play well to nip in front of the forward and intercept the ball. He averages 3 tackles and interceptions per 90 so far this season.
However, while Varane’s ability shows he can be aggressive and on the front foot as Rangnick would prefer, he also has the pace and strength in order to cover large spaces in defensive transition — which will prove crucial if United’s press, or counter-press, is undone by opponents.
Our no.19 would be able to cover in these types of situations, but must also be helped by the goalkeeper, who should have a sweeping role in this system.
His intensity in possession would almost certainly also be appreciated by a manager who wants his team to be in attacking positions as soon as possible, but it will be his defensive capabilities that will make him a crucial member of Rangnick’s defence.
The English talent that made his name in the Bundesliga has already caught Rangnick’s eye of course. The German claimed last year that Jadon Sancho would still be “one of the hottest players in the market” after his move to United dematerialised that summer.
This year; Jadon Sancho’s finally at Old Trafford, but it hasn’t been the most ideal start for the 21-year-old who scored his first goal in red against Villarreal on Tuesday and followed that up with a first Premier League goal against Chelsea, but the talent has been clear since he walked through the door.
Rangnick will be excited to work with such a pure talent in Sancho, and with his style of ‘heavy metal rock’ football, comes players that will need to thread the needle once United gain opportunities in the final third — and alongside Bruno Fernandes, Sancho is the best equipped to execute this role.
The former Borussia Dortmund star would excel from the right in an offensive sense of course, but as recently shown in the Champions League victory in Spain, the young winger also can be impressive without the ball.
His role off the ball in a defensive 4-4-2 block was a nugget of ability that wouldn’t have been expected by many United supporters, but one that Rangnick will look to build on as he builds a side that can challenge the top pressing teams in Europe.
However, ultimately, it’ll be the moments of magic that Sancho can produce that makes him working with this top football operator a scintillating prospect.
With there being an emphasis on transitions in this way of playing too, Sancho has already proven in his short time at Old Trafford that he is a top player in these situations.
Making good decisions, but also executing them extremely well in order to aid his team’s attack — further explained in the Twitter thread below.