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10 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT RALF RANGNICK

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There has been much written and said about Manchester United’s new interim manager Ralf Rangnick in the past few days but how well do you know the German’s fascinating background?

We have compiled a list of 10 things that you might not have stumbled across when delving into the story of the much-respected 63-year-old as we await confirmation of when his work visa will be processed so he can be in the dugout at Old Trafford…

1. Ralf was born in June, 1958, a month after United played in the FA Cup final, losing 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers at Wembley. Nat Lofthouse scored both goals in front of almost 100,000 fans but the Reds had done unbelievably well to reach the showpiece occasion, of course, after the tragic Munich Air Disaster occurred earlier that year. 
2. As part of his English and PE degree, during his student days, he lived for a year on the south coast and attended Sussex University. This is where his love of the country’s football blossomed, as he recalls visiting the likes of the Goldstone Ground (Brighton), Highbury (Arsenal) and Upton Park (West Ham United) and savouring the special atmosphere. “Those memories still give me goosebumps,” he admitted. “It was about football, passion, emotions and the love of the sport.”

3. One game he remembers attending was a home fixture for Brighton against Liverpool in 1979, and, as a follower of the Seagulls, the youngster will have been well versed in the side that would play United in the 1983 FA Cup final. Indeed, five of the players involved at the Goldstone Ground played at Wembley, as the Reds eventually won 4-0 in a replay (Graham Moseley, Steve Foster, Gary Stevens, Gerry Ryan and Jimmy Case – who joined Albion from the Merseysiders). John Gregory, who was with Brighton in the late seventies, would later be the Aston Villa manager who had to be convinced to sell Dwight Yorke to United in 1998.
4. Ralf played at non-league level for Southwick in the 1979/80 season, taking part in 11 matches in the Sussex County Division One. The team finished runners-up in the table that campaign but the German had a spell on the sidelines after needing hospital treatment when suffering a punctured lung and broken ribs during a game. He could operate in midfield or at full-back.

5. During a player profile at the time, he cited Garry Birtles as his favourite footballer. The striker was impressing for Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, who won the European Cup in 1979 and 1980, before going on to join United for £1.25 million. Birtles took some time to break his league duck for his new club but scored 11 times in total before rejoining Forest in 1982.
6. As a coach, he is known as the ‘Godfather of the gegenpress’ and is given credit for influencing the work of the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel, Julian Nagelsmann and Ralph Hasenhuttl. He himself had developed ideas from tacticians such as Valeriy Lobanovskyi and Arrigo Sacchi, putting these into practice when showing his prowess with Ulm, who have only ever played one season in the Bundesliga.

7. The countdown clock was a training method he has used to develop the quickness of mind in his players. “We’ve had a countdown clock custom made for us,” he said during his time at Hoffenheim. “The assistant coach activates it and it starts ticking. We use it for a game called the eight-second rule. The players can hear that ticking and they know they have to get the ball back within eight seconds or, if they have possession, they need to take a shot within 10 seconds. It can be irritating for them at first but what we noticed is this type of training can affect players. Within weeks, they adjust their style of play and it becomes an instinct.”
8. Ralf was Schalke boss when the club met United in the 2011 Champions League semi-finals, the first time the Bundesliga club had ever gone this far in the competition. After topping a group containing Lyon, Benfica and Hapoel Tel Aviv, they knocked out Valencia and Internazionale, hammering the Italian giants 7-3 on aggregate. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side proved too big a hurdle at the last-four stage, despite Manuel Neuer performing excellently in the first leg, with 2-0 and 4-1 wins setting the Reds up for a final date at Wembley with Barcelona.

9. Rangnick was interviewed for the England job before Sam Allardyce was handed the role in 2016. FA technical director Dan Ashworth had targeted the German for the West Brom post and retained an interest in his services. “After the Euros, he called me again and asked if I would come for an interview for the England job,” Ralf revealed to FourFourTwo. “I said: ‘How realistic is that?’ He said that, if it was up to him, it would be very realistic, but that there were some other people on the board who thought it should be an Englishman. Of course, that’s normal. Three days after I went for the interview, they informed me that Sam Allardyce would be taking over as manager.”
10. When asked which rule change he would bring in, the tactician made an interesting point about the size of the goals, after also suggesting five substitutions should remain because “it makes the game faster, reduces injuries and keeps the squad in better spirits”. Ralf said: “I believe we should discuss an issue I brought up 15 years ago. Are the dimensions of the goal still reasonable? When the goal was defined to be 2.44m high and 7.32m wide, the average person – and that includes goalkeepers – was 10cm shorter. If you made the goal 30cm wider and 20cm higher, you would certainly see a few more goals.”

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