Ralf Rangnick bulls ahead at unhappy United

As Ricky from Trailer Park Boys says, “I’m not the kind of person to say I told you so, but I told you so.”

The clip perfectly illustrates what is happening right now in Old Trafford. Bubbles plays the role of the Manchester United players and staff with brains. Julian is a concoction of Rangnick, United’s owners, journalists and some of the win-at-all-cost fans. Corey and Trevor are Rangnick’s stormtroopers, the fanboy reporters who need the money and the desperate fans. Ricky, right now, is Back Page Football.

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The Red Bull revolution at Old Trafford is already dead on its feet, yet has over two more years to run following his planned transition into the stand. This is what has not been revealed until now.

Red Bull Ralf in Russia

Remember the terrible mess Rangnick made at his last gig? You can get a small refresher of that here.

Worst of all, the man is still in Moscow. He was paid off, run out, but his buddy Lars Kornetka, whom describes himself as an acolyte, stepped into Ralf’s shoes following his departure. Loko almost pulled a quick one but Rangnick kept his hand on the tiller at the desolate RZD Arena. He had removed anyone of worth from the coaching staff, from cup-winning head coach Marko Nikolic to a host of trainers and analysts. Out on gardening leave are medical and fitness staff who refused to implement his ‘programs’ and yet not a word was written or spoken by the great and good of football media in England or Ireland. In fact, it’s been worse. They either lied, were completely incompetent, or both.

Rangnick’s company had been peddling their services for months and he was fond of lying about their achievements even before he got his claws on Lokomotiv. His arrival in Moscow was known for some time and he sold a desperate Lokomotiv management magic beans from February before he signed on in July.

At the same time as he was under contract in Moscow, he was flogging his wares around Europe. Clubs including Manchester United, Everton, Marseilles and Eintracht Frankurt had all seen his presentation. The financial terms varied, but the range was €10-25million for three years, based on full control of football, scouting, medicine and appointments related to football.

A package deal that all but United ran from. Lokomotiv, desperate to be rid of him, released a statement written by Rangnick himself. This was leapt upon and regurgitated without question by the sporting media. An English daily actually used Rangnick’s self-praising words. The Red Bull revolution in Russia was the transformation of a competitive, winning club with a family atmosphere, productive academy, scouting system and medical centre into a collapsing pit of misery.

From Russia, there were warnings. Former Loko President Nikolai Naumov was one of many to say that Rangnick is just a snake oil salesman. What Alexei also thought was that Rangnick to United meant Rangnick Kornetka Consulting Ltd. (RKC) was gone too. Instead the deal he has with United is essentially the same as with Lokomotiv Moscow. He still gets daily reports from Moscow and is lining up a new coach for the Railways club to replace hapless Markus Gisdol. His company partner, Lars Kornetka, is running things in eastern Moscow as “The Professor” wants. RKC have until summer 2024 to completely destroy Lokomotiv.

Revolting Red Bull at Old Trafford

“I simply refused to go on the program he offered. I told him, no. I’m not interested. I told him I know all about his past, all about Pansold and that I’m not interested in shortening my life just to lengthen my career. This was May, he wasn’t even officially part of the club.”

I had five senior players from Lokomotiv speak with me and over three times that number of staff. While some were ready to go on the record immediately, including a Russian international, I advised that to do so would see them destroyed. Being blacklisted in sports means you have no post-career media work and no work if you’re a physio or doctor.

Those staff who were forced out signed nasty non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Marko Nikolic is liable for €2million if he ever speaks out. Omerta in sports is far more prevalent and dangerous than that practiced in southern Italy. In sport, snitches get stitched up, are ostracised and have the media turn on them. Which is why I was impressed when a sports journalist from Manchester reached out to me before Christmas.

They confirmed what I knew about Rangnick’s deal with United and went so far as to have a three-way Zoom call with a person from United’s financial-legal department. We spoke for over an hour and I shared screenshots with them related to Rangnick and his deal with Lokomotiv, plus information on his ongoing association with doping criminal Bernd Pansold.

“The deal is not with him, not fully. It’s with his company for two and a half years (until June 30th 2024) with an optional extension. It’s close to £20million, but (unlike at Lokomotiv) we pay for specialists salaries, visas and so on.”

I asked about the outsourcing of sports medicine and consulting to a company linked to Bernd Pansold in Austria. They didn’t know. They did know, however, that there was shock amongst players and staff when it became known that Rangnick would be appointing his own successor(s).

“The club have to pay compensation, the salary, all that stuff. And he has final say. I know you spoke about this (on Capital Sports), but Jesus, I saw it in writing and thought to myself, just what are they doing? And all we hear is, “We’ll be like Red Bull and produce our own Haaland.”

I asked why the journalist hadn’t made more of it while reporting on the club. Their editor decided they’d wait and see. That there was no point in sending out negative vibes so soon. Plus, he’d only just seen the website of Rangnick. “Club building”, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

The lies beneath

The reporting on Red Bull Ralf has been shockingly poor, at least in Ireland and the UK. In Russia we knew that his acolyte Kornetka would take over his position at Lokomotiv, it was reported widely on November 25/26th. The club tried to get rid of Rangnick, Kornetka and their entire crew but to no avail. Kornetka was always staying to keep running the clown show, though you’d never know it from reports days later.

He’d packed the Moscow club with questionable cronies, with a particular focus on sports medicine. He lied about Lokomotiv not having a scouting department or proper medicine. He also made sure the media were onside when informing certain journalists that there would be no major staff changes at United, that Michael Carrick, Mike Phelan etc would stay on.

The Manchester Evening News had their ‘fan brand writer/presenter’ declare more of Loko was what United needed. And on and on and on. No questions, no reflection, no nuance, no worries. And the depressing thing is that nobody really cares.

As Julian says in the opening clip:

“It’s right out in the open. Nobody’s going to figure this out. It’s the perfect fucking plan.”

And you know, he’s right. Manchester United fans were quick to sneer and jeer when we caught Liverpool out in 2020. Now they have their own man with links to a child abusing doping criminal and the focus is solely on results.

What is even more depressing than the Theatre of Nightmares and more young men dropping dead of heart attacks, is that RKC are in advanced negotiations with three more clubs in Europe and one in the US on the strength of his current portfolio of clubs being built. 2022 is gearing up to be a very happy new year.

The Author

Alan Moore

Russian based sports journalist and consultant, working with major clubs including Hajduk Split, Eintracht Frankfurt, Lokomotiv and Spartak Moscow. Current host of Capital Sports FM in Moscow, former international boxer and semi-professional footballer and commentated at the FIFA World Cup 2018.

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