Ralf Rangnick’s spell in charge of Manchester United on an interim basis was a complete disaster.
The German stepped in as manager until the end of the 2021/22 season to replace the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and was expected to take up a two-year consultancy role following the conclusion of his time as manager.
But Rangnick failed to steer the ship away from the iceberg and, after a promising start, it became clear that United’s squad weren’t taking to his methods and that he had no belief in the crop of players.
In a deal that was considered a genuinely sensible piece of footballing business by United for the first time in a while, the German left the club at the end of the season, going back on his consultancy role following the arrival of Erik ten Hag.
Rangnick was far from perfect as a manager. Quite the opposite, in fact. But it became abundantly clear that he had a vision for rebuilding a club in dire need of fixing, which he was outspoken about in press conferences, and could’ve been a huge asset in another capacity.
He pulled no punches when it came to how shoddily United have been run in recent times and was adamant that the squad needed a complete overhaul heading into the new season, if they were to get back to winning ways.
Since his departure, Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News has reported that Rangnick suggested to United four key players that they ought to have signed, when still at the club.
The German was unable to make any signings during his spell, despite publicly expressing his desire to sign a striker in the January transfer window, with the board seemingly not making funds available to him. United are still yet to sign the striker he yearned for, nor have they signed any of the four targets he suggested.
Rangnick’s four suggested transfer targets
At the back, Rangnick recommended RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol, who has been linked with Manchester City and Chelsea this summer. He even went as far to say that he was a ‘must-buy’.
He also recommended RB Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer and Christopher Nkunku, two players that would’ve given United’s midfield an entirely new look. In attack, Rangnick suggested the club signed Alvarez, long before rivals Manchester City pursued and completed a deal for the Argentine forward.
Since his departure, Ten Hag has been able to bring in just three signings of his own; Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen.
The lack of recruitment has concerned fans as negotiations over a deal to sign Frenkie de Jong rumble on, and a sudden deal for Adrien Rabiot nears completion following United’s opening day defeat to Brighton.
But what could the Red Devils’ XI potentially look like if Rangnick was able to get the club to deliver the four signings he had suggested, on top of Ten Hag’s business? Well, no need for imagining, because we at GIVEMESPORT have pulled together that exact XI, and it’s a significant improvement on current affairs.
GK: David de Gea
There have been no shouts from either Rangnick or Ten Hag about immediately replacing De Gea, who won United’s 2021/22 Player’s Player of the Year award.
However, his limitations in playing a more advanced, ‘sweeper-keeper’ role and his obvious lack of ability to distribute the ball is becoming a growing concern and was on show against Brighton.
RB: Diogo Dalot
Along with the goalkeeper position, right-back is probably the weakest spot in this potential XI – by some distance.
Ten Hag clearly doesn’t fancy Aaron Wan-Bissaka and neither did Rangnick. Dalot continues to prove he is also not good enough, however, posing a concern for United. A position that needs addressing sooner rather than later.
CB: Raphael Varane
Injuries are becoming a serious concern for Varane, whose best moments at United so far have been massively dampened by constant struggles for fitness and consistency.
He is undoubtedly a world class defender, though, and would show this if able to find that stretch of games. The Frenchman could be crucial to a rebuilt back line.
CB: Josko Gvardiol
Gvardiol is everything United need and more in defence. Aggressive, intelligent, young and progressive, the Croatian really is the blueprint for a top class modern centre-back.
At just 20 years old, he is far from the finished product. However, his high ceiling is clear to see and it’s no wonder that he’s been linked to Pep Guardiola’s City. He could’ve been the answer to the club’s defensive woes.
LB: Tyrell Malacia
With Luke Shaw burdened by a patchy fitness record and too many inconsistent spells of form, it’s no surprise Ten Hag called upon Malacia to improve his options at left-back.
Malacia isn’t afraid to go beyond a defender, stay high up and contribute to sustained attacks. Expect him to be a more regular fixture in the starting XI as Ten Hag’s first season advances.
CM: Konrad Laimer
Regardless of whether De Jong signs or not, United should have gone all out to sign Laimer. The position still requires major surgery.
Press resistant, comfortable picking up the ball from deep, can occupy high positions and progress the ball efficiently. Laimer is now over the worst of some nasty fitness issues and would’ve been the perfect solution to United’s dire midfield situation.
CM: Lisandro Martinez
Signing Gvardiol would’ve complimented Ten Hag’s capture of Martinez beautifully. Not only would it have given United much better strength in depth, it also would’ve allowed for Martinez to be pushed higher up, into midfield.
His official debut against Brighton was very shaky at times, but there were positives to take from it – one in particular being his passing range. In midfield, he’d give United so much more security.
RM: Jadon Sancho
Credit to Ten Hag for arriving at United and immediately recognising that Sancho needed to be the club’s right winger, with instructions to come narrow and take players on.
Sancho would look a lot better, though, if he was a part of a more fluid front four, involving more technical and clinical attackers. Signing him and not surrounding him with equally as exceptional talents is a supreme waste of time.
AM: Bruno Fernandes
Fans are beginning to grow tired of Fernandes’ desire to play the ‘Hollywood’ pass or shoot on sight whenever he gets the ball, but to say there isn’t a top class player in there is absurd.
Ever since signing, Fernandes has had the licence to do as he pleases as he has been United’s sole creator. This has to change, and he needs to be coached into a more refined player, to better sync up with those around him.
LM: Christopher Nkunku
With Malacia providing width from full back, Nkunku would’ve been an ideal fit in transforming United into a more fluid attacking force.
Rangnick earmarked him as an ideal signing before he penned new terms at RB Leipzig, meaning the Red Devils have likely missed the boat for now. He’d have been perfect in creating a fluid and technical attack.
ST: Julian Alvarez
Of course Alvarez wouldn’t have come in and immediately set the world alight, but leading the line in this hypothetical, ‘what if?’ XI, he’d have looked absolutely ace.
Rangnick wanted Alvarez before City got their hands on him, which says it all about his potential. United are still crying out for a striker, too. Come the end of the season, this one could prove a painful pill to swallow.