YOU might barely have heard of him, but Manchester United have agreed a deal for Ralf Rangnick to become their interim manager for six months.
The German, who is a proponent of the gengenpress, is currently heads of sports development at Lokomotiv Moscow and he inspired Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel.
That means the club have bought themselves six months to find a replacement permanent manager with Brendan Rodgers and Mauricio Pochettino front runners to take over.
Paris Saint-Germain have been irked by reports the former Spurs manager could head to Old Trafford and have blocked an approach.
United have now put any move for Poch, 49, on hold until at least the summer, but the Argentinian is still keen on the Red Devils.
Brendan Rodgers remains in the running, but United will have to stump £8million to prise him away from Leicester City.
In the meantime, former Barcelona, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao manager Valverde remains a popular option to become United’s interim manager.
The Spaniard, 57, has been out of work since leaving the Nou Camp last year, when he was replaced by doomed Ronald Koeman.
And Man Utd legend Peter Schmeichel wants to see his former team-mate Steve Bruce take temporary charge at the Theatre of Dreams.
Meanwhile, Erling Haaland has been urged to join rivals Liverpool over Manchester United or Chelsea.
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United’s past and present got together for the premiere of a film based on the life and career of Bryan Robson.
Italy and Portugal suffered a nightmare World Cup 2020 Play-Off draw and now look set to face each other in a shoot-out for Qatar, writes GARY STONEHOUSE.
The Euro 2020 winners and Cristiano Ronaldo‘s nation both finished second in their qualifying groups, behind Switzerland and Serbia respectively.
Turkey will visit Portugal, before the winners of both of those one-legged ties battle it out for a spot at next year’s World Cup.
Even if one of the two powerhouses falls at the first hurdle, the draw still means that at least one of the last two European Championship winners will not be at the World Cup.
Man Utd have the biggest net spend since 2018.
Will Ralf Rangnick be given funds in January to strengthen the squad?
Aaron Ramsdale wants to face a red-hot Cristiano Ronaldo when Arsenal travel to Manchester United next week, writes JOSHUA JONES.
The Gunners head to Old Trafford on Thursday in what looks set to be Ralf Rangnick’s first game as interim boss.
Ronaldo, 36, has scored just one Premier League goal in his last SEVEN appearances, dating back to September.
But with his heroics for United in the Champions League, he is now just one strike shy of 800 career goals.
Even so, Ramsdale insists he would prefer a ‘full-on battle’ with the Portuguese superstar than a quiet night between the sticks.
The Arsenal goalkeeper said: “I’d never thought I’d play against Ronaldo, but I really hope he’s on it against us because it gives me a chance to test myself.
“As much as you want to go somewhere like Old Trafford, there’s no better feeling than getting on top of someone and saying I’ve had a full-on battle with Ronaldo.”
RON THE WAY
Barcelona are reportedly fearing that Manchester United or Liverpool could snatch highly-rated prospect Ronald Araujo, writes GARY STONEHOUSE.
The 22-year-old star arrived at the Nou Camp from Uruguayan side River Boston in 2018.
The defender has since broken into the first-team squad and the Uruguay national side.
He is out of contract in 2023 but Barcelona want to reward his progress with a new five-year deal.
They claim that ‘sources said that during preliminary discussions with the player, there is a concern at Barcelona that they may not be able to meet the terms that he is requesting’ to stay.
United take on league leaders Chelsea NEXT.
Frank Lampard said back in 2020: “I’m gonna go Messi on this, on pure, natural talent. But what Ronaldo has done has been absolutely incredible.”
However, the ex-England international has now revealed a U-turn in his thinking after watching a recent episode of Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football.
And he explained why while speaking to Gary Neville on The Overlap.
When asked the question again by the Manchester United legend, Lampard responded: “You know what, I’ve always been a Messi man… and then I watched your debate with Jamie Carragher recently.
“I actually think for Ronaldo’s output and actual numbers, and goals in big finals and semi-finals like we’ve seen, I think I maybe give him the edge.
“That’s going to start a load of hate, now!”
RON LAST TIME
Man Utd’s Cristiano Ronaldo faces an almighty fight to play at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Portugal HAVE to beat Turkey to then face either ITALY or North Macedonia in the play-off final.
Ronaldo’s Euro 2016 winners will play at home should they make the final, though.
But facing Italy for a spot at next year’s tournament isn’t ideal.
Micheal Carrick has revealed that Manchester United still don’t know where Donny van de Beek should play – 15 months after signing him.
Man Utd caretaker manager Michael Carrick, 40, gave van de Beek a rare start in Tuesday’s 2-0 win against Villarreal in the Champions League.
Speaking about the Dutchman in a press conference on Friday, Carrick said: “Donny’s one of those players [that] because he’s so flexible, he can play in different positions.
“He did the same for Ajax before he came here, he’s done that for Holland as well, variety can be a real strength.
“We’ve got ideas where we think Donny’s most suited but he’s so flexible and adaptable, with two or three positions.
“We’ve got ideas for him but being flexible is a strength and a credit to what he can bring to the team.”
Chelsea legend Petr Cech has warned the Blues that they have to be wary of Manchester United’s new management setup on the weekend.
United look set to appoint Ralf Ragnick as new boss and Cech is aware of the danger someone with fresh ideas can pose to the West London outfit.
Cech said to Chelsea’s website: “We have a saying in Czech: ‘the new broom sweeps better’. It’s always tricky when you play teams with a new manager.
“That’s what our next opponents Manchester United will be hoping for on Sunday: when you get a change of manager, you always have a reaction.
“Suddenly, everybody starts from the same spot again. The new manager brings new ideas, about the team, about the tactics, about the strategy, but only when he gets involved in training does he start choosing his team.”
Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann reckons Ralf Ragnick will be a hit at Manchester United.
Ragnick’s on the verge of being unveiled as the Red Devils manager following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dismissal.
But United will be in safe hands with Ragnick according to Nagelsmann and he texted the 63-year-old to tell him so.
The Bayern head coach, who calls Ragnick his mentor, said: “I texted him and told him I think it’s great.
“He will do United very well with the way he plays football. I believe that United will play good games in the next few weeks and I wish he’ll stay there longer than just next summer.”
Arsenal legend Ian Wright is sceptical about Manchester United’s chances against Chelsea despite Ralf Ragnick’s appointment.
United are on the verge of naming Ragnick as interim head coach for six months.
But Wright doesn’t think that will be enough to stop Thomas Tuchel’s relentless Chelsea.
He said: “We’re talking about a Thomas Tuchel Chelsea side that is going to be ruthless with what they do.
They’re not going to change. You’re going to have to deal with Reece James and what he can do.
“Unfortunately for Chelsea, (N’Golo) Kante might not be fit. But the way they play in the system, if you’re organised, and you stay in your shape, you’re probably going to break through the Manchester United side.
“I don’t know what they can do that’s going to curtail and stop Chelsea or slow them down for them to then impress themselves on Chelsea.”
Manchester United have reached a deal with Lokomotiv Moscow to make Ralf Rangnick their new interim boss.
SunSport understands United have struck terms with the Russian club following talks over a deal for their German sporting director.
However, the Red Devils are yet to agree personal terms with Rangnick himself.
LEO SAYS NO
PSG sporting director Leonardo has finally broken his silence on reports linking Mauricio Pochettino to the Manchester United job.
The 52-year-old Brazilian is in charge of all sporting operations at the Parisian club and has revealed they have no intention of letting Pochettino leave.
Speaking to French media outlet AFP, Leonardo said: “We don’t want Pochettino to go. He’s never asked to leave and no club has contacted us for him.
“We have a lot of respect for Zinedine Zidane, what he’s done as a player and a manager.
“But I can tell you very clearly that there is no contact and no meeting with him took place.”
WHAM BAM SAM
New Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick missed out on the England job… to Sam Allardyce.
Talking to FourFourTwo in 2017, Rangnick discussed the conversations he had with FA technical director Dan Ashworth.
He said: “Dan first contacted me in 2012 and invited me to an interview at West Brom. He offered me the job but I knew he was probably going to join the FA, so I turned it down.
“After the Euros he called me again and asked if I would come for an interview for the England job. I said, ‘How realistic is that?’
“He said that if it was up to him it would be very realistic, but that there were some other people on the board who’d also have a say, and a few of them thought it should be an Englishman.
“Of course, that’s normal. Three days after I went for the interview, they informed me that Sam Allardyce would be taking over as manager.”
Michael Carrick insists Manchester United fans are about to see the real Jadon Sancho.
The winger enjoyed his best game in a Red Devils shirt in the Champions League in midweek scoring his debut goal for the club in a 2-0 win over Villarreal.
And Carrick reckons United fans can look forward to more of the same from the England winger despited his difficult start at Old Trafford.
Carrick said: “There is a spring in his step now and you can see in his body language there is that little spark and let’s hope that spark gets bigger.”
NICK OF TIME
Manchester United are sweating over the appointment of Ralf Rangnick with Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow yet to grant him permission to leave.
The 63-year-old joined the side in the summer on a three-year deal as their Head of Sports and Development.
ut the former RB Leipzig gaffer has since reached an agreement with the Red Devils to take charge on an interim basis until the end of the season.
United have been keen to bring in a new manager after they sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following the 4-1 away defeat at Watford.
However Lokomotiv are yet to release Rangnick from his contract in order to allow him to make the move to England.
United are now waiting for that to happen before swiftly bringing him to the Theatre of Dreams.
SunSport also understands that Rangnick is in talks with United about his long-term future at the club after his interim spell.
COME ON RON
Aaron Ramsdale wants Cristiano Ronaldo to be at his best when Arsenal face Manchester United.
Playing against Ronaldo is a dream come true for Ramsdale and he wants the United attacker to give it his all so he can test his goalkeeping skills.
He said to Amazon’s Black Friday Live event: “I’d never thought I’d play against Ronaldo, but I really hope he’s on it against us because it gives me a chance to test myself.
“As much as you want to go somewhere like that (Old Trafford) there’s no better feeling than getting on top of someone and saying I’ve had a full-on battle with Ronaldo.
‘NOT GOOD NEWS’
Jurgen Klopp has praised Manchester United’s appointment of Ralf Rangnick by hailing him as an “organised and experienced coach”.
When asked about Rangnick’s arrival, he said: “Unfortunately a good coach is coming to England, to Manchester United!
“He’s a really experienced manager, built two clubs from nowhere.
“Man United will be organised on the pitch. That’s obviously not good news for other teams.”
Marcus Rashford has blasted Manchester United fans for being harsh on ex-boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Solskjaer was given the boot after a series of poor results which didn’t sit well with the United faifthful.
And now Rashford has hit out at the beleagured fans, claiming that Solskjaer wasn’t to blame for United’s dismal displays.
Instead, Rashford reckons the Red Devils loyalists should be mad at the players.
He told the BBC: “Ole is Manchester United at heart, nobody could ever say that he is not.
“For me, the respect that he deserves is huge, not just from us [the players], but the fans as well.
I mention when Bruno [Fernandes] was on the pitch, telling the fans it is not just him [Solskjaer], it’s all of us… that’s important as well.
“I feel like fans, sometimes, blame the manager. The manager can’t play for us. He can set us up in the best way that he thinks possible and our job is to do those instructions and do what we’re good at as well, and try and win games.
“It didn’t happen for us in that game but it is not right to blame the manager.”
Manchester United target Ralf Rangnick is a ‘merchant’ who only cares about money according to the former Lokomotiv Moscow president.
But former Lokomotiv Moscow president Nikolai Naumov has accused Rangnick of not ‘caring about football’ and argues that he is only interested in money.
In a sensational rant to Match TV, Naumov claimed: “It’s not about Manchester. For Rangnick, this is no escape, betrayal, or disgrace. Rangnick is a merchant.
“He absolutely does not care about football, because he only does business around him.
“And the more countries, leagues and football clubs he covers, the more he will earn.
“He’s absolutely indifferent to Lokomotiv. He did not come here to raise football, but to earn money.
“Now he was offered money elsewhere, and he and his company will go to United.”
GIVE HIM A RANG
Incoming Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick was deemed the perfect man for the job because he is the OPPOSITE of sacked boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Rangnick reportedly stuck out to the Man Utd chiefs as he offered a contrasting set of attributes to Solskjaer.
He is said to be “ultra-technical and tactical” as opposed to Solskjaer who concentrated more on “motivational aspects”.
LOU ARE YA?
Louis Saha has declared Roy Keane was right in his criticism of Harry Maguire as he stated other former Manchester United players should be calling out the squad.
Club legend Keane labelled Maguire as a ‘disgrace’ for his performances of late, with the Irishman subsequently accused of being a bully.
But Saha, who won two Premier League titles and the Champions League during his time at the Theatre of Dreams, has defender his ex-team-mate over his views.
Speaking to SunSport via 101 Great Goals, he said: “Maybe it seems harsh because it’s against an individual, but Maguire is the captain and representative of the club.
“Keane’s criticism is I believe directed predominantly on the whole group.”
RED DEVIL RAID
Barcelona have added Manchester United pair Edinson Cavani and Jesse Lingard to their 10-man wishlist ahead of the January transfer window.
The Catalan giants are keen to bolster their squad after a nightmare start to the 2021-22 season.
Uruguayan Cavani has only featured in five of Man Utd‘s Premier League games so far this season.
He could see Barcelona as a club offering much more game time given Sergio Aguero’s health concerns and Xavi’s apparent ill-feeling towards Luke de Jong as a realistic option to lead the line.
Then there is Lingard who has been given even fewer opportunities than Cavani since returning from his sensational loan spell with West Ham.
The England international is being heavily linked with a move back to the Hammers, but Barca may feel they can hijack the deal.
The pieces appear to be falling into place in Manchester United’s pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino.
A well-connected member of the Qatari royal family has announced Zinedine Zidane WILL take over at the Parc des Princes.
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al-Thani has links to the Qatari sovereign wealth fund that bankrolls PSG.
He is also reported to be the brother of the French giants’ principal owner and has previously spoken out over Kylian Mbappe’s future at the club.
And the royal figure took to Twitter to confirm ex-Real Madrid boss Zidane has accepted an offer from the Ligue 1 leaders.
He tweeted: “Things are settled. It will be announced soon. Welcome Zezo.”