Ralf Rangnick has cast doubt on whether he will take up his consultancy role with Manchester United, saying that a contract is not as important as “what will really happen”.
In an incredibly honest briefing with the written media following his open press conference at Carrington on Friday, the interim manager also said the club cannot make cosmetic changes but require ‘open heart surgery’ to cure their issues.
While Rangnick feels Erik ten Hag was the best possible coach available to United, he stressed that the Dutchman can only succeed if there is a dose of realism over the current situation and a willingness to overhaul in the right way moving forward.
Here is the transcript of an illuminating exchange:
Is it fair to describe Paul Pogba as enigmatic?
It doesn’t make sense to talk about that, right now he’s injured. But I mean, he’s a player that won the World Cup with France. We all know what kind of potential he has and the good player he can be. But like quite like a few other players, he was just struggling to get his best performances sustainably on the pitch for United matches. This was not only the case this season, or in the last couple of weeks. As far as I remember, this was also the case in earlier years.
Well, that’s difficult to say. If myself or other coaches knew that, it would probably have been easier to change that. But right now it doesn’t make sense to think about that. Because as I said, he won’t be available for the game tomorrow and most likely not for the other four upcoming games. And as it seems right now, he will not renew his contract. It’s most likely that he won’t be here anymore next season.
More high-profile and decorated coaches than Erik ten Hag have failed at this club. What makes you and the board convinced that he can succeed where they have failed?
I think he’s a good character to start with. From all I heard from people who have worked with him, he’s very communicative, very much carrying himself well, doing a lot of things himself. He obviously needs the assistance of the whole club, of all the people inside the club. I think he will get that.
He will hopefully have the chance to mould a new team together with the scouting department and together with the board, which is necessary. And for me, the most vital part is the club manages to get in the right and best possible players, change the attitude and also the energy – I think we need positive energy for the new team. And this is also important for the new manager. And if he gets that, we spoke about other clubs that were in a similar position as Manchester United five to six years ago…
So if the right lessons are being learned from what has happened this season, this could be one of the few good things about a season like we are going through. At least we know which kind of screws we need to turn, things we need to change. And if that happens, I mean, why should United not be able to be as successful as those clubs are now? So it’s not just the manager’s quality. It’s about changing all the other things that have brought the club into position as we are in right now.
Is patience the key?
It’s more the level of expectations and this has also got to do with patience. In a club like Manchester United, it’s difficult to tell people to be patient. It will take a little bit of time. But we just have to face the current situation. I mean, we lost on aggregate against Liverpool 9-0. We lost against Manchester city on aggregate 6-1. The team even lost against Watford 4-1. We lost against a team like Everton, who were not full of confidence, 1-0. This is just the sad reality that we have to face and just acknowledge, which will help Manchester United in the future.
You mentioned you’ve not spoken about your own situation with the board yet, but after what you’ve been through and what you’ve seen in the last few months, do you still want to be involved with Manchester United next season?
We have an agreement on that consultancy role, but in the end, it’s not a question of what has been written on paper or what has been agreed upon, it’s about what will really happen in everyday life and, and in everyday’s business. It’s also important how Erik ten Hag sees that. Does he like to speak with somebody like myself? How close does he want to work together? And those are the things we haven’t spoken about yet.
So for me, I’m not worried about that at all. It’s not a question of having agreed upon a contract or whatever for the next two years – I’m 64 very soon so for me, it’s about what will really happen and how much does Ten Hag and the board of Manchester United really want to know my opinion and have my experience.
Would, would you like to remain involved?
Well, I’m interested and I very much have a feeling with this club after these five-and-a-half months, I still see what kind of options we have, what kind of space for improvement there is and where we could develop.
Again, having seen Liverpool play against us, having seen what happened in other clubs and we also spoke about Arsenal’s progress, why should this not be possible here? This is one of the biggest clubs in the world, we have perfect training conditions, we have a fantastic stadium… We have massive fan support, probably the best fan support I’ve ever experienced apart from Schalke in Germany. This is just amazing. And of course I would want to be part of that process. I don’t know if this is can happen and how this is really appreciated and wanted.
If the next 12 months are bumpy for Ten Hag, do you have confidence United will stick with him and give him time?
I can only tell you from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard and experienced so far, Erik is a good choice – a very good choice. He has shown that in the past. I’m pretty convinced that he’s the best possible coach that you can get right now. As I said earlier on, one of the very few good things is that it’s crystal clear – you don’t even need glasses to analyse and to see where the problems are here.
So now it’s only about how do we solve them? And for me, it’s clear, it’s not enough to do little minor amendments and little issues here and there some minor cosmetic things. No, in medicine, you would see this as an operation at the open heart. So there are more things to be changed than some little things here and some minor things there. If this happens and if everybody has realised that this has to happen, and if people want to work together, then it makes sense.
And then I still believe that it doesn’t need two or three years to change those things. This can happen within one year and other clubs, not too far away from here, have shown that it doesn’t take two, three, four years. That it’s possible in one, two, maybe three transfer windows.
It does require strong leadership though, on and off the pitch?
For sure and this is not something that only one single person as a manager can do. I mean, with all respect to Klopp and Pep, I’m sure that they didn’t all the didn’t do all the things themselves. There were also other people involved in those two clubs, top people in certain positions, no matter in which area it was, in order to rebuild. To build how we want here you have to have top people and they have to work together in a very close and in a very reliable way.
Erik Ten Hag’s announcement as Manchester United’s new manager means we’ve ripped up the script for the Essential Football Podcast, with the Dutchman’s unveiling heralding – yet another – new era at Old Trafford.
Host Ron Walker is joined by Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher as well as senior football writer Peter Smith and features writer Adam Bate to talk about the new man, what United can expect from him and the challenges he faces at Old Trafford.
The podcast also looks ahead to the weekend meeting at the Emirates, when a resurgent Arsenal host United on the back of a 4-2 win at Chelsea on Wednesday night.