Ralf Rangnick has been struggling to pick up points since taking the reins from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Manchester United 23 points behind Premier League leaders Man City
Talk of who will replace Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United at the end of the season has ramped up in recent weeks as the German struggles to turn things around at Old Trafford.
The two names on everyone’s lips are current Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax manager Erik ten Hag.
But a name that was suddenly thrown into the mix this weekend, after Southampton won the tactical war over Manchester United in their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, is Ralph Hasenhuttl’s.
Glen Hoddle said of the Saints boss taking over at United on BT Sport: “Would that not be a good fit? For me, if they’ve worked so closely together, if he’s going to be the sporting director eventually – that works.
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“Southampton will want to keep him, of course, they would, because he’s doing such a very good job with the players that he’s got there. He’s doing an excellent job. If he wanted it, it would make sense.”
Former United midfielder Paul Scholes added: “It’s not really something that’s crossed my mind until the last 10, 15 minutes when Glen mentioned it. Watching that interview there is a closeness between them.
“As a sporting director, he was the right choice at the right time for Leipzig – did brilliantly – and I’ve always liked him. I’ve always thought the football he plays at Southampton with not the best squad. The type of football has worked for them. His teams have been good to watch, I think it comes across really well.
“This would be a different kind of pressure; I think people around this club, and fans especially, are thinking more of possibly Pochettino or an Antonio Conte and what people have been at the bigger clubs.
“The more I think about it, I don’t think it would be a bad thing. The way he goes about his business, he looks good.”
As touched upon by Hoddle, Rangnick, who is moving upstairs at United to work a consultancy role for two years at the end of the season knows Hasenhuttl well.
Hasenhuttl forged his reputation as a top boss under Rangnick at RB Leipzig.
Following Leipzig’s promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history with Rangnick at the helm in 2016, the German took a backseat and appointed Hasenhuttl to take the reins.
Rangnick picked Hasenhuttl for his approach to football; the Austrian favours a high-energy, high-pressing style of play – the type Man United aspire to play and the type that got the better of them on the weekend.
Using Rangnick’s 4-2-2-2 formation, which the German has implemented at times at United this season, Hasenhuttl devised an intelligent system that saw his side starve the opposition of space.
Daniel Chesterton/Getty Images)
The two full-backs played a vital role in his system, with the pair constantly racing down the wing to stretch the pitch.
Leipzig went unbeaten in their first 13 matches under Hasenhuttl, which was a record for a newly-promoted Bundesliga side, and found themselves top of the Bundesliga after match-week 11.
The Bayern Munich job became vacant in 2017 and Hasenhuttl’s name was inevitably linked with the vacant post.
“Ralph could coach every team in the world,” Rangnick said of the Austrian, in an interview with Sport Bild at the time.
“The question is if he wants to do it. Right now, there’s no reason to leave the train here at Leipzig. Not for our players nor for our employees, and that includes me.”
Rangnick’s respect for Hasenhuttl hasn’t diminished in the years since, with the United boss hailing his friend following this weekend’s clash at Old Trafford.
“I’ve known [Hasenhuttl] for six or seven years, he has developed in those years, it’s obvious,” said Rangnick.
“You can see what he did with Southampton, he also did a great job at Leipzig, finishing second in the first year of the Bundesliga and sixth in the second year. What he’s achieved at Southampton is great, just great. Excellent coach.”
Whether Hasenhuttl is a genuine contender for the United job remains to be seen, but with Rangnick moving into a consultancy role, there are worse managers he could have working under him.
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