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Manchester United find themselves in so much trouble that the fallen giants have turned to a footballing Godfather to sort them out.
Ralf Rangnick has been on United's radar since 2019, when senior club officials including current football director John Murtough travelled to RB Leipzig to see how him and Paul Mitchell both operated.
Murtough returned to Manchester with a glowing dossier of information on Rangnick, who has been held in high regard at Old Trafford ever since.
Now United have finally decided to hone in on their chosen target, with Rangnick poised to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on an interim basis until the end of the season.
His vast experience and progressive football brain will be called upon to help stabilise a team that found itself sinking fast under the limited and flawed leadership of Solskjaer.
Rangnick's task will be to make sure United finish in the top four this season and possibly challenge for a trophy, including the Champions League. His six month deal will include attractive bonuses.
But despite all his proven qualities, Rangnick is still not viewed as the long term managerial solution. And this is where the narrative becomes even more intriguing.
United remain focused on hiring Maurcio Pochettino as their next permanent manager, with Rangnick moving upstairs to work alongside him in a consultancy capacity as the club's first ever Sporting Director.
One senior United source said last night: "The club has huge respect for Ralf Rangnick. We want him for much longer than just a stint as manager."
It's a role executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has been wanting to fill for several seasons, and Rangnick is expected to work above football director Murtough, become the conduit between the club's board and manager.
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What Murtough makes of it all is anyone's guess, but what seems certain is that United are now willing to put their faith in a German and Argentine being able to bring the team's approach, tactics and style of play into the 21st Century.
For longer than United supporters care to remember, they have been forced to watch the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and now Thomas Tuchel adopt philosophies first championed by Rangnick himself, that have seen all three of them achieve huge success.
Guardiola has won countless trophies at Manchester City, Klopp landed the Champions League with Liverpool and ended their 30 year wait to be English title winners again, while Tuchel inspired Chelsea to conquer Europe within six months of arriving at Stamford Bridge.
In the meantime, United have lurched through a succession of managers without producing a tangible identity. David Moyes lasted 14 months while Jose Mourinho, Louis van Gaal and now Solskjaer failed to nail down a blueprint for success.
United have not won the Premier League since 2013, but have those who run the club finally had a lightbulb moment?
Rangnick, who had worked closely with the late former Liverpool boss Gerrard Houllier down the years, became known as the "Godfather of German football' after his modern coaching revolutionised the game in his homeland.
Klopp might have popularised the famous 'gegenpress', but it was Rangnick who championed it long before him.
The 63-year-old has previously managed Hannover, Schalke, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig and more recently took up roles as director of football at Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig before moving to Russia, where he has been working for Lokomotiv Moscow.
This will be a challenge on a different scale altogether for Rangnick, however, while the same can be said of Pochettino, who has just one trophy to his name as a boss in the shape of the French Cup.
Will the duo provide the answers to all United's problems? Who knows. But it will be fascinating to see the duo try.
- Champions League
- Premier League
- Manchester United FC
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