The Ralf Rangnick era has yet to officially begin, but there is a ton of excitement about where this club is heading. However, the future can be scary and loaded with false optimism. By saying that, it is important to realize the club’s current situation and how it can be fixed for the short term, which is this season. That all starts with identifying the type of team Rangnick wants and the style he wants to play.
With that being said, we can look back on old Rangnick teams to see what he prefers in his players and the style he likes to use.
Obviously, you have probably seen the term Gegenpress a lot the past two weeks. That alludes to the style of football Rangnick plays. To sum it up as easily as possible, its a high press which aims to win the ball high up the field in order to generate an attack. While at RB Leipzig, his team often set up in a 4-4-2, which in his system really looked like a 4-2-2-2 as seen below.
During this press, the squad will look for certain press triggers. Obviously, they cannot just run chasing the ball all game, so they look for these triggers. A good example of that would be a pass to an outside back. By passing to the outside back, this would allow the United team to heavily shift to the outside, trapping the opposing outside back, hopefully leading to a turnover.
Offensively, the United team won’t be possession-based, rather they would like to lure in the opposition by using their press triggers and then attack with speed. They want to attack as quickly as possible. This way, they’re high up the field and are able to get at the opposition’s goal as quickly as possible. We have seen teams in the Premier League use this style before like Liverpool and Chelsea.
Now, looking at the United team and using this system, they have some players who fit this system, but they also have some who do not. For the fun of it, let’s line up in the 4-2-2-2.
For starters, a front two of Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford will do bits to any opposition. The pure talent and goal scoring of Ronaldo added with the fresh, ready to run Rashford is a great duo.
The two outside players who will tuck in and become the playmakers in this system would likely be Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes. Both of them are very creative players who can thrive in a more open role. There is also players like Mason Greenwood and Jesse Lingard who can slot in there and Greenwood can easily play upfront as well.
What gets tricky in this system is the two center midfielders. Personally, in a fully fit United team, their best two options are Fred and Paul Pogba. Pogba is going to have to stay more disciplined and cover a lot of ground. This is definitely a spot that United need to strengthen regardless of the system going forward.
Defensively not much changes except Diego Dalot slots in at right-back. The outside backs need to be able to get up the field and put balls into the box. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has not shown us he can do that on a consistent basis. Dalot is a much better attacker, and if they’re to get a turnover up the field, you’d much rather have him put the ball into the box.
Life under Rangnick is going to be much different. This team is going to set up and play a certain way and that just is not something we have seen from a United side recently. They’re going to be fast, physical and play with a fire in them. There is definitely going to be players who do not take to this system and way of ideals and some who thrive under it. New faces are going to come into play and things will change. But, have no fear sometimes the future can be scary but in this moment, things cannot get worse then they have already been this season. Right now, things surely can only go up.