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Ralf Rangnick’s time in charge at Manchester United has been a shambles

When Erik ten Hag was introduced as Manchester United manager on Monday, it was hard not to remember Ralf Rangnick’s first press conference just a few months ago.

Rangnick, remember, spoke about the possibility of ‘recommending’ himself for the permanent job if he did well as caretaker at Old Trafford. At a minimum, we were led to believe that he would take an active role in choosing his successor.

Fast-forward five months and Rangnick has been exposed as little more than a stopgap. A puppet created to fail. A man who had as little influence over what happened next at United as he had over United’s worst Premier League season on record.

After it ended in defeat at Crystal Palace on Sunday and United only avoided the embarrassment of Europa Conference League football by a hair, Rangnick had yet to speak to Ten Hag or meet the new man in person. Hell, he didn’t even know the Dutchman was at Selhurst Park to witness United’s final indignity.

Rangnick had no say in Ten Hag’s appointment and it is fanciful to think that he will make any significant contribution in the future in the vague role of consultant juggling his new job as manager of Austria.

Ralf Rangnick has endured a dismal spell as Manchester United caretaker manager

Ralf Rangnick has endured a dismal spell as Manchester United caretaker manager

During his opening press conference, Rangnick half-jokingly said that he could take the job full-time.

During his opening press conference, Rangnick half-jokingly said that he could take the job full-time.

The German took up the caretaker role at United at the end of November and is set to take on a consulting role.

The German took up the caretaker role at United at the end of November and is set to take on a consulting role.

When asked about it on Monday, Ten Hag’s response was brief. “That’s in the club,” he said. “I talk to a lot of people, but I will draw my own line.”

Rangnick’s arrival (as caretaker manager to replace the caretaker manager who replaced the manager), his departure and everything else has been an unmitigated disaster.

It says a lot about the German’s impact that some players describe the most encouraging moment in the second half of the season as Michael Carrick’s valedictory speech after finishing his three-game stint as caretaker between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking in November and Rangnick’s arrival.

1653322714 613 Ralf Rangnicks time in charge at Manchester United has been

United have been terrible this season, finishing the campaign in sixth place and with their lowest points tally

The Red Devils suffered heavy defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City in the league

The Red Devils suffered heavy defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City in the league

Carrick finished with two wins and a draw, not bad for games against Villarreal, Chelsea and Arsenal, but he was already desperate for this group of players.

United director of football John Murtough began talking about Rangnick two weeks before Solskjaer was sacked, perhaps forgetting that he was a man who had made his name building long-term projects in Germany and Austria, not as a troubleshooter who parachutes into a six-month contract in England.

As much as Rangnick is respected in his homeland, there was also widespread surprise that a 63-year-old who hadn’t coached a team in two-and-a-half years was working as a sports and development manager for Lokomotiv Moscow. , he must be carefully selected to take charge of one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Rangnick would have loved to bring his former assistant Lars Kornetka to Manchester. Instead, Kornetka stepped up to replace him at Lokomotiv while strangely being asked to prepare scouting reports on United’s opponents in Moscow. Players and staff had to wait for bulletins from Russia.

Veteran players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane called for a change in tactics

Veteran players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane called for a change in tactics

Rangnick had little influence during his time at the club and played no part in the appointment of Erik ten Hag.

Rangnick had little influence during his time at the club and played no part in the appointment of Erik ten Hag.

His assistant, Chris Armas, faced ridicule within the team and was regularly criticized.

His assistant, Chris Armas, faced ridicule within the team and was regularly criticized.

Rangnick turned to Chris Armas and Ewan Sharp, a Red Bull coaching duo whose resume included being sacked by Toronto FC last summer.

Armas was lampooned as TV comedy coach Ted Lasso by some gamers, while others had to Google the character when the joke surfaced.

His training sessions cut the ice with a team that included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Edinson Cavani.

Rangnick, meanwhile, remained a withdrawn figure who offered little in the way of warmth or communication. This was a United squad that needed human management, not a gegenpress.

He admitted over the weekend that it was unrealistic to expect such an energetic approach from a group of players who lacked the physicality to execute it.

The squad, meanwhile, complained that they were not given enough training or guidance on what was expected of them.

It came to a head when a delegation of senior players – Ronaldo, Varane, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes – called a meeting with Rangnick to request a change of tactics.

Other players were said to be dumbfounded that the manager kept choosing Fred over Pogba in midfield.

The mood on an already dejected pitch took a turn for the worse and it was no surprise that Alex Telles and Hannibal Mejbri were involved in a heated altercation in training earlier this month.

Players were said to be dumbfounded that Fred (left) was chosen over Paul Pogba

Players were said to be dumbfounded that Fred (left) was chosen over Paul Pogba

Meanwhile, Rangnick blamed the Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid for United’s failure of the season.

“It was like someone popped a balloon,” he said at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

‘The great objective of some of our best players was the Champions League. After the loss against Atletico, you could literally feel in training that we didn’t have the same level of energy or focus.

However, it was Rangnick who gave the team time off after Atletico’s loss and then returned from a Caribbean vacation a day after his players.

Sportsmail revealed in January that he mistakenly showed up for training at Carrington after giving them another day off, while club insiders say the former Schalke manager was “not a morning person”.

United's exit from the Champions League at the hands of Atlético de Madrid caused a bad run

United’s exit from the Champions League at the hands of Atlético de Madrid caused a bad run

Rangnick’s biggest benefit to United may be what he said rather than what he did. He became increasingly outspoken in public about the problems he inherited at Old Trafford, and his comment that the team needed ‘open heart surgery’ certainly hit home.

The usual references to the success he enjoyed in Germany and Austria were of a man who did not want to be tarnished by a situation that was not his.

Still, United will be happy to consign Rangnick’s forgettable spell in charge at Old Trafford to history. It’s time to move on and the bar has been set astonishingly low for Erik ten Hag.

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