Manchester United have shortlisted experienced German coach Ralf Rangnick as a potential contender to succeed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager on an interim basis.
United, who made the decision to sack Solskjaer on Sunday following the 4-1 defeat to Watford on Saturday afternoon, have made the decision to search for an interim boss to take the team through until the end of the season, before appointing their next permanent manager next summer.
Although United, as reported by the Manchester Evening News, remain confident of appointing Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino as their next permanent boss, the French club have rejected the Reds’ first move for his services, meaning the club may be forced to turn to an interim boss for the time being.
The Manchester Evening News understands that Rangnick, who has been closely linked with the job for several weeks, is now on United’s list of potential options, with the 63-year-old currently out of management, despite currently being in work in an upstairs role at Russian giants Lokomotiv Moscow.
With Rangnick now firmly in the running, MEN Sport has taken a close look at how he could set United up if he was to land the job on a deal until the end of the season.
Goalkeeper – David de Gea
Arguably United’s Player of the season so far, Spaniard De Gea will fancy his chances of retaining his place in goal regardless of who fills Solskjaer’s shoes.
The 31-year-old has been in inspired form between the sticks and proved his weight in gold once again during Tuesday evening’s 2-0 UEFA Champions League triumph over Villarreal, making some impressive saves.
Although Dean Henderson may fancy becoming United’s long-term first-choice shot-stopper in years to come, it would be quite frankly ridiculous to take De Gea out of the side at this moment in time.
Defence – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
Renowned for liking his full-backs to push up high when playing with a back-four, Wan-Bissaka and Shaw could prove to be key figures in attacking sense for United under Rangnick.
Whilst Shaw grabbed six assists in all competitions last season, as well as experiencing playing in a wing-back role for England on numerous occasions, Wan-Bissaka is not quite as fruitful when bombing forward from right-back, meaning the right-back area may be a position United look to add to in 2022, amid their continued interest in Kieran Trippier.
However, appointing a temporary manager may mean that they are not prepared to invest in the squad in January, potentially leaving Rangnick to work with what he inherits.
Although Maguire’s form has been well off the pace of late, you would expect him to form a central-defensive partnership with Varane, with United going back to basics.
Midfield – Donny van de Beek, Fred, Bruno Fernandes
For the bulk of his managerial career, which spans more than 30 years, Rangnick has had a tendency, for much of it, to play with a 4-4-2 or 4-4-2 diamond. Considering United have a wide range of midfield players, both defensively and offensively, that could be a tricky system for him to implement at Old Trafford.
During his time at Hoffenheim, however, he did play with a 4-3-3, a system he could easily replicate at United.
Having a defensive presence with Fred, who could operate alongside Van de Beek, who could carry out a box-to-box type role, would allow Fernandes to roam in and around the No.10 position.
That would open the door for him to drive forward, produce his magic and link the midfield and attack.
Attack – Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford
If a 4-3-3 system is what Rangnick would go for, it is hard to imagine him picking an alternative front-three to the one named above.
Sancho, who netted his first United goal against Villarreal, deserves the opportunity to make the right-wing berth his own. With Rangnick keen on his full-backs pushing high up the pitch, it would allow Sancho to drift inside, get closer to Ronaldo and, hopefully, add more goals to his name.
The same can be said for Rashford on the left. He is a versatile attacker, but playing out wide is his only route into the current United side because of Ronaldo playing down the middle.
Nevertheless, with the full-backs bombing on, squeezing Sancho, Ronaldo and Rashford together as a front-three could be hugely promising and exciting.
How Manchester United could line-up under Ralf Rangnick. Sign up to our United newsletter so you never miss an update from Old Trafford this season.