The Philosophy and development framework of Ralf Rangnick
“Gegenpressing,” a high-intensity kind of counter-pressing style of football popularised by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, is the concept that most people identify with Ralf Rangnick. But the 63-year-old is so much more, and considering his background and feats with clubs such as Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig, and RB Salzburg, you have to wonder what he’ll bring to a club like Manchester United – which hasn’t been known for its effective footballing structure since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
There has been a lot of discussion about the tactics he might deploy with this current United team, and it’s certainly fascinating to think about. However, because of his 2-year consultancy with the club after his interim tenure, he would have a far more significant role in the overall development of the squad. This is why taking a closer look at his general philosophy and how he manages a club’s building is so intriguing.
Club building framework (The three C’s)
Rangnick’s club development framework has already proven to be a huge success. In just over two years, he guided Hoffenheim from the German third tier to the Bundesliga. In just under eight years, his leadership helped RB Leipzig rise from the German 4th division to the UEFA Champions League semi-final.
The German International divides his approach to football development into three basic categories: concept, competence, and capital, and believes that a club can be very successful if they properly explore all three.
The German International defines concept as the overall club identity, its DNA. This category establishes a specific culture that he wants the club to follow. It’s the most significant of the three because it serves as a template for how the entire system and club structure will function. The club’s identity will determine how player recruitment is approached. Even on a bad day on the pitch, the identity should be recognizable. It would be one that everyone associated with the club, from the players to the staff to the supporters, would be connected to.
Concept also entails adjusting the club’s scouting network to suit the club’s identity, which is undoubtedly one of the most significant parts. Rangnick scouts players between the ages of 17 and 23 regularly and has discovered gems like Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, and others. During each transfer window at RB Salzburg, he made it a point to reduce the squad’s average age because he believes that young athletic players are an essential component of his on-field philosophy.
It’s all about putting the right people in the right places at the club. Rangnick tries to identify the best personnel for each role. Competence would imply finding the proper people who fit the club’s ideology while also being a good fit for the style of play on the pitch.
He established some key positions Back in Salzburg. He hired their first nutritionist and sports psychologist, two professionals he believes are critical to players’ performance on the pitch. When he joined a new club, he made it a point to examine the staff before deciding who could stay and who needed to be replaced.
Capital, according to Rangnick, is a “Limited success factor.” It suggests that money would not be a determining factor in the club’s success. Many clubs have spent a lot of money and still haven’t achieved the level of success they want.
Money empowers concept and competence when spent correctly. However, the two categories can also generate money. Thus capital isn’t generally as crucial for long-term success as those other two. According to Rangnick, the first two can generate money if implemented in the right way.
So, how does the Professor’s approach to club development translate on the pitch? He strives to recruit players that almost entirely fit the way he wants his team to play, which involves high level of intensity and pressing. However, according to the man himself, his tactical framework is also categorized, and I separated them into various phases and subphases.
Phase 1 – When the team has the ball
Rangnick prefers a forthright approach from his team. His squads are very aggressive and usually play with a high line that tries to get the ball up the pitch as quickly as possible.
Phase 2 – When the opposition has the ball
During this phase, the team quickly attempts to reclaim the ball. They strive to press fiercely before winning it back, giving the opposition little to no time on the ball.
Phase 3 – The two transitions
Sub-phase 1 – After the team wins the ball back
It doesn’t matter where on the pitch Rangnick’s teams win the ball back as long as they win it with intensity. The more the intensity, the greater the likelihood of scoring. They launch counterattacks at a frightening pace as soon as they have the ball, almost instantaneously.
Sub-phase 2 – After the team lose the ball
This is where the well-known concept of “gegenpressing” comes into play. Rangnick wants his teams to put the opposition under immediate pressure when they lose the ball by aggressively pressing them with every player in close proximity.
He uses a highly narrow press, in which all of the players go after the ball as soon as they lose it. It’s why he usually employs a very high press. The higher you win the ball, he believes, the better.
Phase 4 – setpieces
Rangnick stated that his teams spend a reasonable amount of time practicing setpieces, which he thinks to be particularly important at the top level. We’ve seen how crucial they can be, especially in games against top clubs where one team has a slim chance of winning. According to the German manager, if teams score 30% of their goals from setpieces, then realistically, 30% of your training time should be allocated to setpiece training.
Many of Rangnick’s training sessions are aimed at improving a young player’s mental abilities so that he can make better decisions on the pitch. While fitness is still crucial, Rangnick feels that cognitive development is just as important as physical development. No matter how skilled a player is, he can never reach his full potential if he does not make good decisions during high-pressure situations.
The German boss will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to Manchester United. He is known as the “Godfather of German Football” for a reason, and his footballing philosophy might provide United with the impetus they require to reclaim their dominance in Europe’s elite competitions.