Ralf Rangnick has talked a good game during his ill-fated spell as interim manager of Manchester United.
Last week, Rangnick was insistent and adamant that he knew what the catalogue of problems were and suggested he knew how to start to fix the bedraggled mess left by years of incompetent management stemming from the very top of a once great club.
‘I’m really looking forward to playing my part in helping United become a real force again,’ Rangnick said after being appointed manager of Austria on Friday.
But how will the German have the chance to do so when he will have another job occupying his mind?
Ralf Rangnick was appointed manager of the Austrian national team on Friday
Rangnick intends to combine his Austria role with his consultancy at Manchester United
Rangnick’s tenure as interim boss at Old Trafford has been hugely underwhelming
Rangnick taking the Austria role is the latest farcical episode in the Old Trafford soap opera, one which United fans have long grown tired of but which supporters of rival sides – most teams, in fact – never want to end.
The club and the 63-year-old himself have stressed he can both be a consultant at United and manager of a national team. But to believe that is naive at best.
Rangnick has been candid of the need for drastic change, of a ‘rebuild’ and a general overhaul of a club whose malaise shows no sign of abating. How can he be fully invested in that when he is employed elsewhere?
United need someone undertaking this particularly daunting task on a full-time basis, not in their spare time.
Rangnick taking the Austria job is the latest example of mismanagement by the United board
United’s incompetence off the pitch has been matched during a dismal season on the field
In fact, this was already the case even before news broke of Rangnick’s impending appointment by the Austrian FA. Exact details of his consultancy role had been sketchy at best, although Sportsmail revealed at the start of April that he was set to work just six days a month.
For the Glazers, and other United executives, to think the ‘open heart surgery’ Rangnick believes the club requires can be achieved with the help of someone working 144 days in two years is nonsensical.
Yet it is also entirely fitting with the lack of strategy and direction that has been clear for all to see ever since the Glazer takeover in 2005. No plan, no idea.
United have managed to bungle what appeared to be, initially at least, a smart move in getting Rangnick to continue with the club beyond the expiry of his contract as interim manager.
Fans have questioned why technical director Darren Fletcher is on the touchline during games
Employing someone with the reputation and knowledge of Rangnick, once dubbed the ‘Godfather of Gegenpressing’ and whose credentials have been endorsed by the likes of Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp, to assist behind the scenes seemed a rare sensible act from the American ghosts who have haunted Old Trafford for nearly two decades. It also better suited the 63-year-old’s skillset.
But of course, this is present-day United, who have a frustratingly good knack for making the worst out of promising situations.
This is present-day United, where the technical director – Darren Fletcher – sits on the bench during matches. This is present-day United, who may end up being unable to hold on to someone who wasn’t going to be around much in the first place.
Rangnick’s refreshing honesty in press conferences is perhaps the only thing that fans will miss about the German, whose appointment as interim boss essentially meant United were writing off the remainder of the season. In December, with two trophies still to play for.
Rangnick was not involved in the process which led to United appointing Erik ten Hag
It is hard to disagree with Roy Keane that United and Rangnick should have a ‘clean break’
On the pitch, it has been nothing short of a disaster – but that is not entirely the fault of the German. No-one succeeds at United anymore.
Rangnick has, for whatever reason, also had no say in the process which led to Erik ten Hag being chosen to become the next permanent manager. That does not exactly scream confidence in him from the club.
Not to go all Roy Keane here, but a ‘clean break’ between Rangnick and United looks to be the best course of action now.
United need to bring in someone who can dedicate their full focus to the job at hand. Yes, international management does not consume as much time as a club role, but combining it with another position drastically underestimates the scale of the task at Old Trafford. Put simply, it does not work.
Should they choose to do so, United risk adding another cook to an already-spoiled broth.
United’s long overdue attempt to improve the structure off the field has not worked. Fans have little confidence fortunes will change any time soon – with or without Rangnick.
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