Ralf Rangnick’s time at Manchester United has been full of ups and downs.
Despite only one loss in the league under him this season, Rangnick’s side currently finds themselves in sixth place. Additionally, a penalty shootout loss to Middlesbrough put United out of the FA Cup.
Unfortunately, Rangnick’s well-known footballing philosophy has been challenging to integrate. Players are not impressed with their manager’s coaching style – and the staff he has hired.
Rangnick is one of the greatest advocates of the ‘gegenpress’. This system is a high intensity, direct style of football built on trying to win the ball back from the opposition as quickly and as high up the pitch as possible.
Because of this, Rangnick’s players have to be incredibly fit; therefore, his squads tend to be relatively young overall. For example, at Hoffenheim, he had a policy of only signing players under 23 years old.
Ralf Rangnick has implemented this philosophy at every club he has worked for, with varying levels of success. He took Hoffenheim from the German third division to the Bundesliga in back-to-back promotions.
He also guided German side Schalke to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2010/11. In the same season, Rangnick won the German Cup.
However, his tactics have proved more difficult to implement at United. Although not bound by a specific formation, Rangnick has struggled to pick a particular way to implement the gegenpress. He has used 4-2-2-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 while managing Man United.
United’s defence has become harder to beat under Rangnick, but they are now struggling to find the net. Players are putting this down to the training sessions.
‘Ted Lasso’ jibes
Rangnick prefers to take a backseat role when training his squad. Most sessions are led by his assistant, Chris Armas. A relatively unknown figure, Armas has only coached in the MLS over in the United States.
Armas worked indirectly under Rangnick at New York Red Bulls of the MLS. At the time, the German was director of football for the Red Bull program. Clearly, Rangnick has brought in someone who understands the philosophy he is trying to use.
The United players, however, don’t see it that way.
They don’t know why their sessions are taken by a coach with no European football experience. Reports say that they jokingly call Armas’ Ted Lasso’ in reference to the fictional American coach from the TV series on Apple +.
The squad also have an issue with the training session content too. United players have called it ‘old fashioned’ with too much focus on 11v11 situations.
United stars feel like they lack direction when it comes to possession, as much of the tactics focus on time without the ball.
They would rather have smaller-sided, technical drill sessions. This way, United players can improve on sharpness and conserve energy for matchdays.
Maybe an upturn in their form will get the players to believe in Rangnick’s philosophy. For now, there appear to be problems in the United camp. The ‘Ted Lasso’ jibe shows how much work needs to be done to get players on board.