Ralf Rangnick has warned that it could take 18 months to completely fix Manchester United’s issues and make them a force to be reckoned with again.
Despite a promising summer in the transfer market with the arrivals of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, it has been another hugely disappointing season for the Red Devils as they have once again fallen way short of title contenders Manchester City and Liverpool.
Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the dugout in November, but is facing a battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League – a 1–1 draw at home to Leicester on Saturday left United in seventh place and three points behind the top four.
The German is set to take on a consultancy role at Old Trafford in the summer and he has already made recommendations to the club’s board about how a long-term rebuild should be structured.
It centres around United’s next permanent manager, with Ajax’s Erik ten Hag still the favourite for the role and PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino also in the running.
‘Manchester City and Liverpool… have been built together and recruited over a period of five or six years — all of them under the premise of how the coaches want to play,’ Rangnick said. ‘I told the board this is what has to happen [at United].
‘Whenever the new head coach is clear, it has to be: how does he want to play and what kind of players do we need for that? Then we come back to DNA, speed, physicality, tempo. What do we need? This team does not lack technical players, it can do with more physicality.
‘It takes right decisions and [clarity over] where you want to go: what kind of players, what kind of manager and then, in every transfer window, try to get the best possible.
‘This is not rocket science. It has to be done and, if that happens, it does not necessarily need three or four years. Maybe in two or three transfer windows, then the situation could be different.’
United’s physicality issues were highlighted in their draw with Leicester, as Kelechi Iheanacho opened the scoring with a free header from eight yards out after no one tracked his run and the Foxes had been allowed to burst forward down the left hand side and deliver a cross.
In a damning assessment of the team’s current problems, Rangnick blasted the ‘DNA’ of players and how they needed to be more aggressive.
‘I don’t think we have a lack of character but what was obvious in some parts of the game is we were second best with regards to physicality,’ he said.
‘It was about one on one duels. We spoke about that counter-attacking moment we had ourselves where they tackled us twice, within two seconds [and went on to score] and the same was true in quite a few other moments.
The Red Devils have once again fallen way short of Manchester City and Liverpool this season
‘Whenever there was body contact, too often we were second best. That is something we have to get better at for the rest of this season but even more so for next season.
‘There were quite a few moments where I just felt we could.