Shortly after Manchester United and Chelsea shared a point at Old Trafford in the Premier League, it has come to light that interim United manager, Ralf Rangnick, will become the Austrian national team coach.
While staying on at United in a consultancy role, Ralf Rangnick will vacate the Old Trafford manager’s office at the end of this season.
The German coach will once again be walking into a ‘no lose’ situation. Rangnick, 63, took on the Manchester United top job in December with the team outside the top four. Having made little impact, the Red Devils currently sit in sixth position in the table and are in grave danger of missing out on European competition next season. None of this seems to have impacted on the German’s reputation with the Austrian Football Association (OFB) keen to secure his services.
The Austrian national team has failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. After finishing fourth in Group F, behind Denmark, Scotland, and Israel, Austria was eventually eliminated by Wales in March. Soring a brace, an unstoppable Gareth Bale put the Welsh through and the Austrians out of their misery.
Expectations for the Nations League will no doubt be low. The Austrians find themselves in a group with the World Champions: France, Croatia and a Denmark side who have their tails up after making the semi-finals of Euro 2020 (played in 2021). Newly appointed, the pressure on Rangnick will not be great. Any positive result in such company would be an achievement. The Austrians are currently ranked twenty-third in the FIFA rankings.
It hasn’t always been like this for Austrian football. The so called Wunderteam of the 1930s reached the semi-finals of the 1934 World Cup in Italy, and the final of the 1936 Olympics in Germany. Under coach, Hugo Meisl, the Austrian team of the 1930s were a dominant force in European football. In 1938 that would all change. Austria was annexed to Germany and the Austrian’s were forced to withdraw from that year’s World Cup. Despite making it to World Cups on six more occasions, the last time in 1998, Austrian football has failed to get anywhere near the to the success of the Wunderteam.
It is difficult to understand why Rangnick is so highly rated. His managerial career has not exactly set the football world on fire. Admittedly, with Schalke 04, he led them to a domestic cup win or two and a runners-up spot in the German Bundesliga. But, these are hardly the credentials needed to manage at the very top level and his appointment at United, with the benefit of hindsight, must really be questioned.
While it is difficult to fully comprehend Rangnick’s appointment at Manchester United, history will confirm that it was a poor appointment. With a win percentage of just 47%, Rangnick has by far the lowest win percentage of all managers in Manchester United’s Premier League history including Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who managed 54%. Jose Mourinho has the highest win rate of the post-Ferguson era with a 58% win-rate.
I believe that the appointment of Erik ten Hag is an excellent replacement but only time will tell. United will hope that Ralf Rangnick’s role as consultant does not hinder ten Hag in any way and that the Dutchman is given the space he needs to get on with the job.