Manchester United and Ralf Rangnick simply haven’t gelled yet.
The Old Trafford faithful were giddy with excitement when the German was named as their interim manager with his brand of high-pressing football being billed as exactly what the doctor ordered.
However, truth be told, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was still in the dugout when you watch some of the performances that United have delivered under Rangnick.
Man Utd under Rangnick
While fans can hardly expect the 63-year-old to change things at the club overnight, it’s understandable that they would have anticipated at least some level of improvement after a month.
In fact, it could even be argued that the Red Devils are moving backwards with a myriad of reports in the British press suggesting that all isn’t well behind the scenes at Carrington.
And with United’s most recent Premier League outing proving a 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers, it’s fair to say that the Rangnick era hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows so far.
Desire for high-intensity football
However, Rome wasn’t built in a day and there’s still hope that United could really get Rangnick’s pressing brand of football nailed down by the time the German hands over the keys in the summer.
Besides, United have shown in the past that they can play in a manner not too dissimilar to the heavy-metal style that Rangnick fostered across his time in Germany and Austria.
In fact, footage from Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ lays out a pretty clear blueprint for the current United squad to follow with Rangnick in the technical area.
Man Utd 1-0 Aston Villa Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Man Utd’s ‘aggressive football’ under Fergie
The video that we refer to comes from United’s 4-0 Premier League win over Wigan Athletic in 2012, which first re-emerged when the club were struggling for intensity during Jose Mourinho’s reign.
However, the remarkable 31-second clip that sums up the gut-busting intensity of United under Ferguson has arguably never been more relevant now that a pressing-focused coach is in charge.
So, if you fancy imagining what Rangnick’s dreams for United might look like, be sure to check out their indefatigable pressing and defending during the heady days of Ferguson’s tenure down below:
Just imagine how wild Old Trafford would go if they saw that brand of warrior-like defending again.
Exactly what Rangnick needs
Sure, the sheer quantity of slide-tackles would be asking for trouble in the days of VAR, but the point remains the same in that United need to be showing that level of enthusiasm to regain possession.
Besides, while it might have taken United the best part of half a minute to get the ball back in the 2012 instance, it’s very much singing from the same hymn sheet as Rangnick’s eight-second rule.
Speaking during his Hoffenheim spell, Rangnick once explained: “We’ve had a countdown clock custom made for us. 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.”
‘Within weeks’ might have been ambitious and it becoming ‘an instinct’ may be some way off, but clearly Rangnick’s United could do a lot worse than taking a leaf out of Ferguson’s 2012 playbook.