ROBBIE FOWLER: Manchester United’s imminent appointment of Ralf Rangnick as a ‘caretaker’ looks a wise move which gives them real options during the season and in the summer
Fair play to Manchester United.
I’ve constantly criticised their owners and board for what I see as a criminal lack, sometimes, of joined up thinking.
But their imminent appointment of Rangnick as a ‘caretaker’ looks a wise move and one which not only gives them real options during the season and in the summer, but also addresses failures of the past.
And by failures, I’m talking about the last time they sacked a manager mid-season and were forced to appoint a caretaker, in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Look, I’m not having a go at him in any way, I think he deserves respect for the job he did at Old Trafford in difficult circumstances.
But you have to say United’s board got it wrong with the manner in which Ole was appointed.
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They boxed themselves into a corner by bringing in someone with such emotional connections to the club and giving him a fair few months in charge.
He did brilliantly, initially, and really they had no choice but to give him the job permanently, despite reservations on his experience, taking on one of the biggest jobs in world football.
With the benefit of hindsight, he was never quite qualified for the role.
United made it clear they wanted to go more down the City or Liverpool route, with a manager who had a plan and was able to develop young players, adding value to his squad.
They tried that, but how many times did they seem to panic and sign players who were the EXACT opposite of that plan? Too many.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the latest example, apparently because they didn’t want him to go to City. That is not joined-up thinking. Rangnick is a coach held in the highest regard by some of the best across Europe, a bit like Marcelo Bielsa with Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino. Jurgen Klopp has the deepest respect for him as do so many other German coaches.
I know Gerard Houllier rated him so highly, as does Arsene Wenger. And I know that he is regarded as someone who is not only a highly talented coach with modern ideas, but also someone who can improve the structures at a club, from the youth team up.
Just as Klopp has done. And that’s the point.
United have pulled off a bit of a clever move, by getting someone who will bring the organisation they need, sort out players who need sorting, develop some of the fine young talent they have.
And if he works out, then they can give him the job permanently.
If he stinks the gaff out, then he can be moved out in the summer, explained as always being a short-term appointment.
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He can even be pushed upstairs because, though United now have John Murtough as football director and Darren Fletcher as technical director, there is still someone who can do the role that Rangnick did as an executive with the Red Bull teams.
He did a brilliant job there, developing a system that identifies talent superbly and takes them to the highest of levels.
I have a suspicion that United are hoping he will do ‘a Klopp’.
Come in, bring a philosophy and impose it on the club, while building.
But his appointment allows them to still bring in a manager next summer, if they are playing a waiting game for another top coach.
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I keep hearing Pochettino mentioned and I can understand why. It’s a hell of a job trying to manage all those egos at PSG, trying to forge a proper team out of a bunch of superstar individuals, who don’t get on at all.
But the blunt fact is, they may not get him. Leonardo, the PSG director of football has said there’s no chance he’s leaving in the summer.
Is Zinedine Zidane an option? Well, I’d say he perhaps doesn’t have a pedigree like Rangnick.
What United have done is give themselves proper breathing space. And, given their past mistakes, it’s a breath of fresh air.
They have given themselves options and they have got a coach who can change the culture at the club.
As I said, fair play to them.