German veteran coach Ralf Rangnick has dominated the headlines since being named interim manager of English giants Manchester United a week ago. Despite his well-documented tactical acumen, Rangnick's managerial career is a curious one.
Rangnick is credited with pioneering the famous geggenpressing brand of football. His modest CV does not do justice to his contributions to the advancement of the sport. Geggenpressing has powered some of the most successful club teams in recent years. This includes Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Chelsea, who have won the last three Champions League titles between them.
Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick's influence has outweighed his own achievements
Rangnick's philosophy has shaped the coaching careers of some of the brightest minds in modern football. However, one can argue that the German coach has never truly managed an elite club himself. The lack of silverware is one of his biggest shortcomings.
Nonetheless, there is no denying Ralf Rangnick's influence on his colleagues. 'The Professor', as he was known back in Germany, has mentored several coaches who have gone on to scale the greatest heights in the sport. We take a look at five world-class coaches who admire Manchester United's latest manager.
#5 Marco Rose (Borussia Dortmund)
Current Borussia Dortmund manager Marco Rose enjoyed a meteoric rise at Red Bull Salzburg between 2013 and 2019. His growth coincided with Ralf Ragnick's famous reign as the Director of Football for the Red Bull sports group, which includes RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig.
Starting out as Salzburg's U-16 coach in 2013, Marco Rose was made head coach of the first-team in 2017. Rose was an instant success, winning the Austrian Bundesliga in his first season. He also beat fancied Borussia Dortmund on the way to the Europa League semi-finals. He departed for Borussia Monchengladbach in 2019 after remaining unbeaten at home in his two campaigns with RB Salzburg.
Marco Rose's tactics revolve around Rangnick's philosophy of counterpressing high up the pitch. The Dortmund manager described his approach, saying:
"We want to be very active against the ball and sprint a lot. We want to win high balls and have a short way to the goal. We don't want to play wide, but fast, dynamic and actively forward."
#4 Ralph Hasenhuttl (Southampton)
Ralph Hasenhuttl's Southampton might just be the strangest team in the Premier League. The Saints consistently pass the eye test and play an attractive brand of attacking football while passing out from the back. They've clinched impressive wins over high-profile opposition such as Liverpool and Manchester City over the last 12 months.
On the flip side, the Saints have also been on the wrong end of historic 9-0 demolitions on two separate occasions. They seem to be rooted to the bottom half of the Premier League table, thanks to their abysmal luck with injuries and a comical inability to defend. Curiously, Ralph Hasenhuttl made his name while building solid units at unfancied, lower division teams in Germany.
The Austrian, who was a centre-forward in his playing days, adopted a fast, counter-attacking style at RB Leipzig between 2016 and 2018. Hasenhuttl had a terrific debut year with the German side, guiding them to an impressive second-place finish in the Bundesliga.
Despite the team's strong showing, he was rather controversially replaced by another Rangnick disciple in Julian Nagelsmann. Hasenhuttl requested the termination of his contract after being asked to serve as interim and eventually moved to British shores. Despite signs of promise at St Mary's, Southampton have never finished in the top half of the table under the Austrian coach.
Hasenhuttl is known to be an admirer of Jurgen Klopp and Ralf Rangnick, who was Director of Football at Leipzig during the Austrian's reign. Like Rangnick, Hasenhuttl believes football should not only be effective but also entertaining.
“Pressing. Hunting. Be hungry. When you have the ball, find a quick decision, a quick transition to the front. It’s about being emotional, being full of passion. Also, keep the tempo on a high level and don’t slow down the game. That’s what I think people want to see," says Hasenhuttl while describing his approach to the game.
#3 Julian Nagelsmann (Bayern Munich)
Ralf Rangnick and Julian Nagelsmann go all the way back to 2010, when the latter took the first steps of his coaching career at 1899 Hoffenheim. Rangnick was the team's head coach at the time, although he departed in 2011. Nagelsmann, whose playing career was cut short very early due to injury, became Hoffenheim's head coach in 2016. As a result, he also became the youngest manager in Bundesliga history at just 28.
When Nagelsmann took over at Hoffenheim, the club were 17th and flirting with relegation. He not only saved them from going down but also took them all the way up to fourth in the span of 16 months. Rangnick was so impressed with Nagelsmann that he decided to get rid of Ralph Hasenhuttl. He brought in the German even though the Austrian had just guided Leipzig to a terrific second-place finish.
Nagelsmann's debut season at RB Leipzig, which was the 2019-20 campaign, was sensational. The club finished third in the Bundesliga. They also embarked on a stunning run to the Champions League semi-finals, eliminating Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid on the way. Nagelsmann also became the youngest manager to coach a team in the Champions League semi-finals.
In the semi-finals, Nagelsmann and Leipzig were finally beaten by yet another Rangnick protege in Thomas Tuchel and Paris Saint-Germain. Interestingly, Tuchel was Nagelsmann's former head coach and had managed the Leipzig boss during his playing days at Augsburg.
Nagelsmann now manages Bayern Munich and is officially the most expensive manager in the world. The Bavarian giants paid Leipzig €25million in compensation after luring the manager. Nagelsmann backed Manchester United's decision to appoint Ralf Rangnick, saying:
"[Rangnick] will do Manchester United incredibly good, the whole club. His power, the way he plays football, it’s totally different to what’s been going on there in recent years."
#2 Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea)
It isn't an exaggeration to say that Ralf Rangnick deserves enormous credit for helping Tuchel become one of the best managers in football. Back in 2000, Rangnick personally decided to install 27-year-old Tuchel as head coach of Stuttgart's U-15 team. It was Tuchel's first ever coaching gig.
A decade later, Rangnick pushed very hard to bring Tuchel to Hoffenheim in 2010. Now, 20 years after their first union, the German tacticians will battle it out in the Premier League. Tuchel is Rangnick's greatest student and mirrors the veteran manager's adaptability while staying true to the geggenpressing philosophy.
After his first major coaching stint with Mainz 05, Tuchel succeeded Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund in 2015. He led Dortmund to the 2017 DFB-Pokal, which was the club's first major trophy in five years. They also scored a club-record 82 league goals in the 2015-16 season under the German coach.
A tumultuous three years followed at Paris Saint-Germain between 2018 and 2020. Although PSG won the domestic quadruple in 2019-20, Tuchel was unable to lead them to Champions League glory. He lost the 2020 final to Bayern Munich. He departed PSG with the highest league game win percentage in club history (75.6%).
Tuchel's achievements with Chelsea are well-documented. In less than 12 months since his arrival in London, he has already led them to Champions League glory as well as a UEFA Super Cup win.
“He [Rangnick] helped me a lot because he was my coach. He was one of the main figures to convince me to try coaching. So a huge influence on all of us at this time. He was a very early leader in bringing zonal marking and pressing and the line of a back four into German football and still being aggressive. He was one of the pioneers to introduce a 4-4-2 and high pressing. So tactically for sure he is an elite manager with Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte."
#1 Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
Jurgen Klopp is arguably the best manager in world football. Unlike Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Klopp's funds at Liverpool are limited. Instead, he lets his all-action, 'heavy metal' football do the job. The German manager continues to be extremely vocal about his respect for Ralf Rangnick. He implements the most unadulterated form of Rangnick's geggenpress.
Klopp needs no introduction. He consistently gave Bayern Munich all kinds of problems during his time with Borussia Dortmund between 2008 and 2015. He then did the impossible and brought back the glory days for Liverpool. The fallen giants of English football have returned with a vengeance under Klopp, winning 2020 Premier League and 2019 Champions League titles.
Ralf Rangnick has already spoken about how he and Klopp implement a very similar approach to the game. He said:
"Jurgen (Klopp) and myself, we like to press high. If you watched yesterday's Manchester City vs Liverpool game (2-2 draw in 2021-22 season), especially in the first half hour, Liverpool were trying to press high with the back four almost on the halfway line. This is pretty similar to my approach."
It would be intriguing to see Rangnick, the 'godfather of geggenpressing', go up against a coach who has perfected it into the most lethal style in world football.
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