Ralf Rangnick has likened what Manchester United require to open-heart surgery, with the interim manager stating the club can be resuscitated if there is strong leadership in support of Erik ten Hag.
Rangnick, who is due to take up a consultancy role but indicated on Friday he would step away if not wanted by the new manager, has been at Old Trafford for nearly six months. The team are sixth, three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham and fifth-placed Arsenal – who they face on Satur day – having played a game more, and the German is clear what must occur for United to be genuine title contenders again.
“You don’t even need glasses to see and analyze where the problems are,” he said. “Now it’s about how do we solve them? It’s not enough to do some minor amendments – cosmetic things. In medicine you would say that this is an operation of the open heart. If this happens and everyone has realized that this has to happen and if people want to work together then it makes sense and I believe it doesn’t take two or three years to change those things. This can happen within one year.
“For sure [strong leadership is needed]. This is something that not just one single person as a manager can do. With all respect to Jurgen [Klopp] and Pep [Guardiola] I’m sure that they didn’t do all the things themselves [at Liverpool and Manchester City]. There were also other people involved in those two clubs, people in certain positions, no matter what area it was, in order to rebuild and build something we want to build here. In all areas you have to have top people and they have to work together in a very close, reliable way.”
Rangnick was asked why Ten Hag could succeed if predecessors of the pedigree of Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho could not. “All I heard from people who work with him is that he is a very good character, communicative, and does things himself,” he said. “Obviously he needs the assistance of all the people inside the club and he will get that and have the chance to mold a new team together with the scouting department and the board, which is necessary. The most vital part is that the club manages to get in the best possible players, and we have the attitude, the energy. We need positive energy for the new team and this is also important for the new manager.”
Rangnick has a contract to continue as a consultant for the next two years yet admits he may leave in the close season. “It’s not a question about what’s written, it’s about what will happen in everyday life and business,” he said. “It’s also important how Erik ten Hag sees that. Does he like to speak with someone like myself? These are the things we haven’t spoken about.
“I still see where we could develop. We have perfect training conditions, a great stadium, massive fan support, probably the best I’ve ever experienced apart from Schalke. Of course I would want to be part of the process that has to happen.”
Paul Pogba is almost certain to depart and appears to have played his final United game because of the calf injury suffered in Tuesday’s loss at Liverpool. Rangnick said: “He won’t be available [at Arsenal] and most likely not for the rest of the games. It seems right now he will not renew his contract [so] it’s most likely he won’t be here any more next season.”
The 63-year-old was asked why Pogba’s six years at the club have been so uneven. “It’s difficult to say,” Rangnick said. “He’s a player who won the World Cup with France, he’s such a good player that he was a regular starter for a team like France. We all know what kind of potential he has and what kind of good player he can be.
“He was quite like a few other players struggling to get his best performance sustainably on the pitch for a team like Man United. This has not only been the case this season or in the last couple of weeks. As far as I remember it was also the case in earlier years.”
Rangnick reprimanded Eric Bailly after the centre-back commented “please” to a comment on Instagram that stated he and Raphaël Varane should start, which would mean Harry Maguire being dropped. “If it’s true that should not happen in a football club no matter in which league,” Rangnick said.