not holding back | 

Manchester United need ‘open-heart surgery’, claims interim boss Ralf Rangnick

The 63-year-old has not held back about the chasm to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Ralf Rangnick has warned Erik ten Hag of the job that lies ahead (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer

Interim manager Ralf Rangnick has warned Manchester United need “open-heart surgery” if they are to kick on under successor Erik ten Hag.

Placed in interim charge following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s exit in November, the highly-rated German coach has found it difficult to get a consistent tune out of the Red Devils’ stuttering stars.

This period in the Old Trafford dugout has laid bare a number of issues to Rangnick, who knows a thing or two about building success having overseen the rise of RB Leipzig and sister club Red Bull Salzburg.

The 63-year-old has not held back about the chasm to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, with the club’s late scramble for Champions League qualification continuing at top-four rivals Arsenal on Saturday.

Rangnick’s short-term focus comes with a long-term appreciation of what is needed for United, who may have made a “good choice” in appointing Ajax boss Ten Hag as permanent manager but still need to do much more.

“I’m pretty convinced that he’s the best possible coach that you could get right now,” the interim manager said.

“All the other things, as sad as it is and as frustrating as it feels right now for everybody involved – and believe me, for me this is extremely, terribly frustrating because in the last 10 years, if not 15 years, we only experience success, myself also as a sporting director and as a football manager.

Erik ten Hag will take over at Old Trafford next season (Adam Davy/PA)

“But in football you’re not always on the bright side. Right now we’re on the other side.

“But the good thing about what happened, one of the very few good things, is that it’s crystal clear. It’s not that difficult (to see). You don’t even need glasses to analyse and to see where the problems are.

“So, now it’s only about how do we solve them? For me, it’s clear it’s not enough to do some little, minor amendments, some little issues here and there, some minor cosmetic things.

“No, in medicine you would see this is an operation at the open heart, so there are more things to be changed than some little things here and some minor things there, and this is the good thing.

Manchester United have had a season to forget (Mike Egerton/PA)

“If this happens, if everybody has realised that this has to happen and if people want to work together, then it makes sense and then I still believe that it doesn’t need to take two or three years to change those things.

“This can happen within one year. Other clubs not too far away from here have shown that it doesn’t take two, three, four years, that it’s possible within one, two or maybe three transfer windows.

Rangnick says strong leadership is needed to oversee the changes and highlighted that it is not something that “one single person as a manager can do”.

The interim boss said that “in all areas you have to have top people and they have to work together in a very close and very reliable way”.

Rangnick would like to help make those changes, but it remains to be seen what his future involvement will be, despite an agreement already being in place for him to stay on beyond the season in a consultancy role.

Ralf Rangnick is unsure what his future with Manchester United will be like (Martin Rickett/PA)

“At least we have an agreement on that role,” he said of the two-year stint agreed in November.

“But in the end it’s not a question about what’s been written on paper or what’s agreed upon, it’s about what will really happen in everyday life and in everyday business. This is the question.

“In the end it’s also important how does Erik ten Hag see that? Does he like to speak with somebody like myself? How close does he want to work together? Those are the things we haven’t spoken about yet.

“I’m not worried about that at all, but for me it’s not a question of having agreed upon a contract or whatever for the next two years.

“I’m 64 very soon. For me it’s not about having a contract on paper, it’s about what will really happen – how much does Erik ten Hag and the board of Manchester United really want to know about opinion, about my experience? This is what we haven’t spoken about.”

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Rangnick has grown fond of United in his time as interim boss and would clearly have liked to have made a better impact.

“In training we haven’t been training on the kind of level that I would have wanted us to train,” he said.

“Obviously we are very far away from that kind of football that I would like to play and that I normally stand for as a manager. We are very far away from that kind of football.

“Even if I watch Burnley yesterday in the second half against Southampton, and they are fighting for relegation and staying in the league, the way that they defended in the second half didn’t allow Southampton a single chance to score in the second half.

“This is what I mean by basics. Those are the things that we need to try to get implemented again and we need to show in the next few games.”

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