Ralf Rangnick: What are the positives and negatives of his time at Manchester United?

Looking at the Premier League table, seeing Manchester United firmly sat in 6th place, with the rest of the “big six” including Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur above them after a disasterous final day against Crystal Palace, tells us that Ralf Rangnick‘s time at Manchester United has been anything but a success.

On the face of it, it’s incredibly hard to dispute that fact. The results haven’t been good enough, the club was dumped out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid and the primary objective that Rangnick had – securing Champions League football for next season – wasn’t achieved in quite spectacular fashion.

Now, that opinion does seem to hold with many a United supporter. In fact, some even use this as as form of justification that Ole Gunnar Solskjær should not have been sacked, with the logic being that we’d instead be in a better position if he was given additional time – however a hypothetical opinion such as this is impossible to either prove or disprove.

When assessing Rangnick’s time at the club from different angles, the definition of what has or has not become a success become blurred – the German’s time at the club, although a failure in the short term, could arguably also be seen as the spark that was necessary to drive the club onto a new, healthier course.

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When his appointment was first known to the masses through an exclusive from David Ornstein and Laurie Whitwell, it’s fair to say that the reaction was largely positive. Finally, the club weren’t looking to just make some quick fix and were appointing a man who looked to have a slightly longer term vision than just the few short months he would be at the helm of the club for.

It wasn’t just his interim managerial appointment that was exciting, but the consultancy tenure of two years after he stepped down as interim manager. Why? Because this was a man touted to have a terrific football brain, a brain that had helped build the Red Bull footballing system as we know it today! A system that’s run terrifically well for the most part, and went from nigh irrelevance to being a Champions League regular under Rangnick’s guidance.

However, Ralf Rangnick brought one more facet to his tenure at the club that makes it possible to say it’s, in some areas, been a success: his honesty.

Rangnick has told us the truth whenever he’s spoken to the media. He never once attempted to cover up failings above him or with his players, failings that were hidden for so so long and as the saying goes: the first step to change is accepting that there’s a problem.

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You can say whatever you’d like about the man’s work as a coach, but as far as assessing the structure of the club from an outside perspective goes, he was someone the club needed at this point in time. Ralf Rangnick was reportedly a firm believer in the appointment of Erik ten Hag as the club’s next manager; a decision which has been received well by a large majority of the fanbase. Rangnick was honest to the supporters and has clearly delineated to the board what needs to be done to revive our beloved club.

The news that Rangnick will no longer be serving the two-year consultency role that was originally agreed upon when he signed with the club, although has come as a suprise to many, is not really that unexpected.

As soon as it was announced that Ralf Rangnick would become the new manager of the Austrian national team, fans immediately started to question how that would work in conjunction with his role at the club. As Manchester United are in dire need of a complete reworking of the club’s spine, could they really afford to have one of their advisors working a different and extremely taxing other job while not losing any focus on his job in Manchester?

Evidently not, and after reported long conversations between him and Erik ten Hag, Rangnick and the club have come to the agreement that he will not be fulfilling his two-year consultancy role at the club. It feels like the conclusion that both Rangnick and club have come to is that it’s best for all parties if they just part ways and focus on their respective jobs, as further interference between the two could pose a significant risk to the future of the club.

Much like the hypothetical question about if United would have been better off keeping Solskjær at the club, it will be forever impossible genuinely answer the question on if this is the correct decision to make. It will completely depend on what angle you want to view Rangnick’s time at the club from; are the poor results and clear lack of motivation by the players a sign that Rangnick just did not fit in at a club of this size, or has his open honesty about his feelings with regards to the structure of the club ultimately led to the potentially brilliant appointment of Erik ten Hag?

In conclusion, Rangnick’s time at the club should be judged in two ways. Short term, it was a failure. The immediate goals of gaining Champions League qualification for next season and re-energizing a broken dressing room were not achieved; and this realistically cannot be seen as anything more than a failure. However, long term, the route the club have now taken since the appointment of Ralf Rangnick may yet be the path that takes them back to where they should belong – on top.

Only time will tell.

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