13 quotes to explain Ralf Rangnick’s philosophy: ‘Heavy metal football’

Quick Reads

Manchester United no longer have an interim interim manager. Now, after the news that Ralf Rangnick will take over until the end of the season, they have an interim manager. 

The German comes in with a wealth of experience, having been a manager or sporting director (or both) at RB Leipzig, Hannover, Hoffenheim and Schalke, whom he coached to the Champions League semi-finals in 2011.

If it’s a distinctive, intense, high-octane playing style Manchester United are looking for, Rangick will also have that tucked away in a corner of his suitcase.

He is credited as the godfather of the modern German Gegenpressing system and has inspired coaches such as Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp.

Here are 13 quotes that sum up Rangnick’s style of play.

Ralf Rangnick

– “[Gegenpressing is] a very proactive style of football, similar to the way in which Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool have been playing under Klopp,” Rangnick told ESPN in 2020. “We like to press high, with a very intense counter-pressure. When we have the ball, we do not like any square or back passes.

“The goalkeeper also should not be the one with the most contact on the ball. In almost every league and every country, the goalkeeper is technically the most limited football player on the pitch and therefore we have to make sure that he has the lowest contact with the feet.

“It is a fast, proactive, attacking, counter-attacking, counter-pressing, exciting and entertaining [style of] football.”

– “Our idea is clear, it’s very, very similar to my coaching friend Jurgen Klopp,” he told the Coaches’ Voice YouTube channel in 2021. “Our Red Bull football is heavy metal, rock and roll, it’s not a slow waltz. We hate square passes, back passes, just having the ball ourselves doesn’t make sense.”

– “What we did in Hoffenheim had a lot of influence on German football,” Rangnick said. “I remember in our first year in the Bundesliga in 2008 we played Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp, who came from Mainz to Dortmund, and we dominated them 4-1.

“It could easily have been six or seven because we continuously pressed them for the entire game. The following week Jurgen said that this is exactly the style of football he wants to play with Dortmund in the future.

“During the next two years, he developed his team in such an impressive manner that they managed to win two consecutive championship titles and two cups.”

– “If you want to increase the speed of your game, you have to develop quicker minds rather than quicker feet,” he wrote in a piece for The Coaches’ Voice in 2018.

“At RB Leipzig, we work on increasing the memory space and the processing pace. We put players into the Soccerbot, for example – a machine that simulates previous games and allows players to relive key moments of matches.

“It’s PlayStation football, but with your feet. The players enjoy it so much we have a hard time getting some of them to stop.

“Tactics, fitness and rules are all hugely important, but they’re only a means to an end. My job – the job – is to improve players. Players follow you as a manager if they feel that you make them better. That’s the greatest, most sincere motivation there is.”

Julian Nagelsmann

“Ralf has a special way of looking at football,” Nagelsmann told ESPN in 2020. “I used Ralf’s philosophy at Hoffenheim; counter-pressing is a very important topic.”

Jurgen Klopp

“He’s one of the best, if not the best German coach,” Klopp said when asked about Rangnick in 2020.

Emil Forsberg

“He’s always there for us and helps when he can. He also gets loud when we need it,” the RB Leipzig midfielder said in 2018. “The coach has everything under control – the results and the way we play say it all.

“The overall package that comes with Ralf Rangnick is great. I can’t imagine a better coach. It may even be hard for him to not coach us anymore next year.”

Oliver Glasner

“Ralf is someone who loves to move things on, 24 hours a day,” the Eintracht Frankfurt manager told rblive.de.

“I like his drive towards improving and developing things, and his attention to detail. He’s very, very demanding, but it’s never personal. He wants the project to move forward. I remember once winning 7-0. He wasn’t totally happy. He felt we could have scored four or five more goals.”

Helmut Gross

“He only brought in players that were right for playing his way,” Gross, Rangnick’s mentor, told The Athletic. “They were mostly young, Under-23s, open-minded, physically strong and quick in a cognitive sense. Older players often want to play at a slower pace because their bodies and minds slow down.”

Kevin Hatchard

“This was a guy who was very much a pioneer when he was bringing his vision of pressing and counter-pressing, that very quick vertical style,” commentator Hatchard told talkSPORT in November 2021.

“There’s a lot of coaches who have taken a leaf out of his book – Thomas Tuchel is one of those. Their paths crossed very early on in Tuchel’s coaching career and, had it not been for his time with Rangnick, he may not have taken up coaching in the way that he did.

“Jurgen Klopp I think has amended some of the ideas for his heavy metal football. This is a guy who basically built the Red Bull football operation from scratch in Leipzig.

“Yes, he’s had a lot of money to play with, but you still have to do it and that is a very slick operation.”

Raphael Honigstein

“When we talk about German coaches today, we’re basically talking Ralf Rangnick,” Honigstein tweeted in 2021. “No man has had a similar impact on the way German football is being played.”

Christian Fuchs

“He has a very clear philosophy of how he wants to play, the idea of coaching and pressing – and that will never change,” Fuchs told BBC 5Live in 2021.

“He is looking to have a personal interaction with you. I was in Vienna with the Austria national team, we had a couple of beers and were talking for a long time about the philosophy of Hoffenheim.

“But then he said, ‘At the moment, you’re not the player for me’.

“He was very upfront, very straightforward and that’s what I appreciated. Two years later he said, ‘I want to sign you now’.

“He thought I was not ready, but that’s all credit to him for being very straightforward and very realistic. He said ‘keep playing, keep learning’ and two years later he said ‘now, you are ready’.

“It is the little things – the positioning, when to push forward and all of those things that can impact your game massively. Under him I came to Schalke, a big club and expectations were high right away, but he made me feel comfortable and appreciated. This kind of man-management is very important in the game.

“He knows what he wants and he will demand from these players to stick together and work hard together.”

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watches Cristiano Ronaldo from the touchline.

READ: Comparing the Man Utd squad Solskjaer inherited to the one he left

Thomas Tuchel

While Tuchel working in his first senior management position at Mainz, Stuttgarter Zeitung asked him to reflect on his time working as a youth coach at Stuttgart, where he was recruited by, and worked under the guidance of, Rangnick.

“You can say that I am a staunch representative of the Stuttgart football school,” he said. “Just as you are shaped by your parents’ upbringing, you are shaped as a young coach here [in Stuttgart].

“In this respect, I have dedicated myself to the Stuttgart school, which stands for offensive thinking, forward-defending [pressing] and ball-oriented play. Of course, I continued to develop — but the foundations were laid in Stuttgart.”


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