Of all the ringing endorsements for the appointment of Ralf Rangnick, the most reassuring to Manchester United arrived courtesy of their bitterest rivals.
“Unfortunately, a good manager is coming to England to Manchester United,” said Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp.
Putting aside club loyalties, Klopp’s enthusiastic welcoming of his friend’s arrival is no surprise given the duo occupy the same pages in the ‘gegenpressing’ chapter of every encyclopedia chronicling the evolution of football tactics.
Read Also: Manchester United ‘Reach Agreement With Ralf Rangnick To Become Interim Manager For Six Months’
“United will be organised on the pitch, we should realise that – that’s obviously not good news for other teams,” said Klopp.
“He is a really good man and an outstanding coach. He most famously built two clubs from nowhere – Hoffenheim and Leipzig – to proper threats and forces in Germany.
“He did a lot of different jobs in football but always his first concern was being a coach and a manager. That’s what his best skill is, obviously.
“Between the coaches (in Germany) he is very highly regarded, and wherever he was he did an incredible job.”
Amid the effusive praise, there was also a warning about the scale of the task.
Read Also: “Cristiano Ronaldo Has Written History For The Last 20 Years” – Jose Mourinho Breaks Silence On Legend’s Manchester United Re-union
Klopp knows from his experience taking over Liverpool in October, 2015 that imposing a new style is demanding and time-consuming when there is so little time for training ground preparation. It certainly took longer than six months to get it consistently right.
No wonder he sounded as intrigued by the rest of the football world as to how Rangnick will convince established players – many of them set in their ways – to instantly embrace a radically different approach.
“All coaches in the world, we need time to train with our teams and Ralf will pretty quickly realise he has no time to train as they play all the time, so that makes it a bit tricky for him,” said Klopp.
In some respects, Klopp and Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel might view Rangnick’s Old Trafford arrival as the ultimate compliment to their work. The United hierarchy have belatedly recognised which way the wind is blowing in terms of elite level coaching, evidently craving the same kind of energy and organisation in their team after the pragmatic years under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, and less easily defined style of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“He started early as a very young man at Stuttgart, coaching the second team and going from there.
“I’m pretty sure he then went to Ulm and took them to the Bundesliga, which was insane at that time.
“We faced each other for the first time when I was a very young coach and he was at Hanover. He might have forgotten that.
“They always played our opponent the following week, so he called me – the young manager at Mainz – and asked plenty of questions. I was happy that big Ralf Rangnick was calling me, but he got all the information he needed.
“They got promoted and we didn’t, so he still owes me something!”
Klopp may have a date in his diary for payback. When Liverpool host Manchester United on March 19 and the duo inevitably embrace on the touchline, the feistiest of fixtures on the pitch will be illuminated by mutual respect off it.
Relations between the Liverpool and Manchester United coach are about to get warmer than ever, even if it is only an ‘interim’ thawing.
Photo Credit: Getty