Ralf Rangnick has been linked with Manchester United should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer be sacked in the wake of the club’s latest setback, with claims in his native Germany saying he is ‘interested’.
United’s mini-revival following the humiliating 5-0 defeat to Liverpool last month proved to be short-lived when they wilted in the Manchester derby with another poor performance.
Pressure on Solskjaer remains intense. He has now had the initial three games to save his job – against Tottenham, Atalanta and Manchester City – and United have only won one of them, while also needing a stoppage time equaliser to avoid defeat in another.
The November international break is also now here, which is the last pause in the club football calendar until March, four months away. If United do decide that Solskjaer has run his course and needs replacing, the time is definitely now because it will only get much harder for someone new to come in and get settled when games are being played every few days.
The issue for United is where to turn to if Solskjaer is dismissed.
Plenty of trophy-starved fans would have been delighted to see Antonio Conte at Old Trafford – the more sceptical were concerned he wasn’t the right fit – but the Italian has been poached by Tottenham. It is difficult to imagine Zinedine Zidane wanting to get involved with things how they are, while Mauricio Pochettino is under contract at Paris Saint-Germain until 2023.
United’s progress under Solskjaer over the last three years, which cannot be ignored, has followed a particular philosophy in keeping with the club’s traditional values, which appeared to get lost in the first six-and-a-half years after Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2013 retirement.
Any new boss should ideally be keyed into that way of thinking and represent a continuation, rather than a fresh start on a completely different page.
Rangnick is a name that has been linked with United over the years. The 63-year-old has earned a fabled reputation as a visionary and developer, having spent most of the last 10 years overseeing Red Bull’s football projects in Leipzig, Salzburg or both. He has also twice returned to the dugout in Leipzig, while he is now in charge of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow.
Journalist Christian Falk identified Rangnick as a potential United option in late 2019 when Solskjaer was previously under considerable pressure. He claimed at that time the coach was ‘interested’.
Fast forward almost exactly two years and Falk is now reporting that Rangnick is ‘still interested’.
But that will only become even remotely relevant if United are willing to make a change.