Trevor Steven: Teacher Ralf Rangnick will shake up Manchester United
In a former life as a football agent, I once asked a German contact for some up-and-coming names in the Bundesliga.
One of them was a forward-thinking coach, who I spoke to and made known to a few English clubs who were in the market for a new manager.
None took up the chance to take him. That was about 15 years ago. Now that man, Ralf Rangnick, is the new boss of Manchester United.
I think it’s a really good appointment for the position United find themselves at the moment.
Back then, directors were not interested in a new style of football and, despite a strong CV, Rangnick was not seen as a big enough name for fans of a top club to get behind.
Nowadays, those running and supporting those teams are probably more knowledgeable about the best talent outside the Premier League.
Rangnick’s reputation precedes him. He is highly respected for his work especially at Red Bull’s clubs, including RB Leipzig, and Hoffenheim.
He is a philosopher, a teacher and an innovator who will shake up United. His arrival will be like a blast of fresh air at Old Trafford.
That will be followed by a whirlwind, because he demands that everyone buys into the team ethic and is prepared to work at least as hard as their opponents.
Tactically, you know what you are getting with Rangnick: a gegenpressing style that has inspired the work of his new rivals at Chelsea and Liverpool, Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp.
But where Klopp especially and Tuchel to some degree are also big on personal relationships, Rangnick takes a more detached approach, more like Antonio Conte at Tottenham Hotspur.
Rangnick could get extended deal
We have already seen United start to work harder in the last two games since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked, including Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea.
I don’t think that’s because of caretaker boss Michael Carrick so much as the penny dropping with players that they haven’t been doing enough.
There have been too many joggers at United, and if you look at players at the top teams, they don’t jog.
Rangnick has joined on a six-month contract as interim manager before a planned move upstairs to act as a consultant for the club.
My hunch is that if does really well – say he achieves a top-four finish and takes United on a long European run – then he will stay on as manager.
If not he can help to shape a new direction for the club off the field, perhaps alongside technical director Darren Fletcher, who is a smart guy himself.
Changes of manager have already reaped rewards for Aston Villa and Norwich, and I expect them to for Tottenham and Newcastle United in due course.
If nothing else, the change at United means a very interesting few months for those inside the club and for us watching from the outside.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who played at two World Cups and two European Championships. @TrevorSteven63