The tactician has struggled to find his feet since taking over as manager of the Red Devils.

Manchester United are having an absolute train-wreck of a season. The 20-time English champions are out of every competition and will end the season without a trophy, yet again. The Red Devils are even struggling to cement a top-four place in the Premier League, one that ensures a UEFA Champions League spot next season.

Their recent 4-0 defeat to Liverpool summed up the club’s situation. Interim manager Ralf Rangnick took over the reins of the club from former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earlier this season. The Norwegian tactician was sacked, despite delivering regular UCL qualifications and multiple long runs in cup tournaments. However, the interim boss has completely failed to establish a system of his own.

The club are in tatters and there is no hiding the fact that appointing Rangnick as the interim boss did not work accordingly. To that end, here is a look at the five reasons why Ragnick has struggled at Manchester United:

5. No Premier League experience

Heading RB Leipzig during the 2018-19 campaign was the last time Ralf Rangnick took charge of a team as manager. Since then, he worked as Global Sports Director for multiple teams under the Red Bulls umbrella. His last position was at Lokomotiv Moscow as the Managing Director of Sport and Communications.

He has never managed a top-level team like Manchester United. Being put in the hot-seat of perhaps the biggest job in the world was always going to be a tall task. Rangnick may be the “father of gegenpressing,” educated coaches like Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp, but his lack of first-hand experience of English football has been exposed on numerous occasions.

4. Disinterested Squad

Players like Paul Pogba have their contracts running out at the end of the 2021-22 season (Courtesy: Daily Express)

The squad is a major problem area for Manchester United. There are several players who have given up arms and surrendered to their fate. Figures like Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Jesse Lingard and so on are heading for the exit with their contracts running out. Ralf Rangnick admitted that the club might need six, seven, eight, or even 10 new players in the re-build.

Having a disjointed team, full of individuals who lack the hunger was always going to be the source of failure. Liverpool dismantled MUFC by four goals at Anfield and exposed their players’ lack of effort, which was hard for the fans to digest.

3. Poor team selection

Ralf Rangnick talks about football honestly and has a clear idea of the style he wants to implement. However, the approach since taking over at Manchester United has been inconsistent, to say the least. Starting with a 4-2-2-2 formation, the tactician has often switched to 4-2-3-1 and 5-3-2 as well.

Furthermore, it has been frustrating for the fans to see Rangnick stick with the likes of Pogba and Matic, without giving game-time to youngsters like Hannibal Mejbri and Alejandro Garnacho. Players like Marcus Rashford and Dean Henderson have struggled for regular minutes as well, especially the latter who is more of a modern goalkeeper instead of David de Gea. These decisions have contributed to Rangnick’s struggles at the club.

2. Headed for a role as a consultant

Raalf Rangnick has the worst win percentage for any Man United manager post the Ferguson era

The idea of acting as the caretaker manager before a permanent one comes in was risky from the start. It gave the players an excuse to perhaps not give their 100%. The eventuality of a new manager coming in made it hard for the German tactician to motivate the players. 

The original plan was to hire Rangnick as an advisor because of his vast knowledge and experience of working behind the scenes. Therefore, his appointment as caretaker did not make a lot of football sense.

1. Lack of planning by club management

At the end of the day, most of Manchester United’s problems stem from an incompetent board. Ralf Rangnick has been clear about the need to have football-minded people making the decisions. After all, that has been the recipe for success at clubs like Manchester City and Liverpool.

Sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer without having a clear contingency plan was a poor move. Hiring Rangnick as caretaker manager was the next step that went wrong. Prolonging the hiring of a new manager is another step which had negative outcomes. Eventually, as Bruno Fernandes exclaimed, MUFC has nothing left to fight for due to these decisions by the hierarchy. 

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