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Manchester United are confident of finalising a deal for Ralf Rangnick before Sunday’s Premier League game against Chelsea.
United are waiting for the Home Office to allocate a time for a work-permit application as talks with Lokomotiv Moscow, where Rangnick currently works as head of sports and development, near a conclusion.
Rangnick, 63, only signed a three-year contract with the Russian club in July, when he embarked on a huge strategic project, and he wants to leave on good terms with United respectful both to those wishes and Lokomotiv, who were beaten 3-0 in the Europa League by Lazio on Thursday night. He will sign a six-month contract with a further two years in a technical consultancy role.
Michael Carrick, who oversaw Tuesday’s win against Villarreal that secured United’s progress to the Champions League knockout stages as group winners, will also be in charge against Chelsea since Rangnick’s work permit is not expected to be granted in time.
The former RB Leipzig and Schalke coach, one of the most influential voices in German coaching over the last few decades, is expected to bring a small number of coaches with him. Lars Kornetka, who worked previously with Rangnick at Leipzig, Schalke and Hoffenheim, could be one of those.
It is understood Rangnick is being given access to footage of United’s training sessions from a series of different camera angles so he can familiarise himself with the players and the work done so far ahead of his arrival as he bids to hit the ground running.
There is an excitement and intrigue about Rangnick’s impending arrival at Carrington and United hope his experience, expertise, authority and tactical acumen can help reverse their ailing fortunes and deliver success this season.
Rangnick was first interviewed on Monday and made a huge impression on football director John Murtough, technical director Darren Fletcher and executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, despite having less than 24 hours to formally prepare.
Reflecting after the initial interview, it is understood that Woodward suggested Rangnick should be offered a two-year consultancy in order for the club to be better able to tap into the German’s wealth of knowledge beyond a six-month contract as interim.
Rangnick was offered the chance to succeed Frank Lampard on a temporary basis at Chelsea in January before Thomas Tuchel took charge at Stamford Bridge but he turned down the opportunity because he was not keen on a short-term post.
However, the chance to play a longer-term role in shaping United’s future is understood to have had a huge bearing on his decision to part with Lokomotiv and Rangnick considered the opportunity on offer at Old Trafford one that was simply too good to turn down.
United believe Rangnick’s continued involvement will have a significant long-term benefit for the club but also assist Murtough and Fletcher.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked as United manager on Sunday morning after a 4-1 defeat at Watford, was given the permanent job at Old Trafford only four months after succeeding Jose Mourinho as interim in December 2018.
Questions will inevitability be asked about whether Rangnick could also net the job on a permanent basis if he succeeds over the coming months but United are still focused on hiring an external candidate for that role as things stand. Mauricio Pochettino, the Paris Saint-Germain head coach, remains very interested but is expected to be one of a number of candidates under consideration.
The wait for a work permit is expected to preclude him from being in charge for Chelsea but he could be in the dug-out for United’s match against Arsenal at Old Trafford four days later.
The Watford defeat was United’s seventh in 13 matches in all competitions and left the club in eighth position, six points adrift of fourth place. Rangnick is understood to be in line for lucrative bonus payments if he delivers Champions League qualification via the Premier League or through European success this season.
United began the process of formally contacting their interim candidates on Sunday. It gave Rangnick less than 24 hours to prepare but he made a big impression during the interview and was the club’s unanimous choice to succeed Solskjaer on an interim basis. “It was very clear he put what little time he had to prepare to excellent use,” one source said. “It was abundantly clear he wanted the job and he made damn sure he was going to get it.”
Murtough has invested considerable time in recent years travelling around Europe establishing relationships with influential figures on the continent and met with Rangkick in Germany in the autumn of 2019 to take a first hand look at the work he had done at Leipzig in terms of their coaching, academy and overall structural set-up. The pair, therefore, will well-acquainted by the time they sat down for the interview this week.
United also interviewed the former Lyon, Lille, Roma and Marseille coach, Rudi Garcia, plus Lucien Favre, the former Borussia Dortmund coach, and Ernesto Valverde, who left Barcelona at the start of last year. Contrary to reports, Valverde was never offered the job and the Spaniard was understood to be the first candidate who was discounted and then Favre.
Garcia spoke to United via Zoom on Tuesday morning and then flew to Manchester to cover Manchester City’s Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain for television before meeting in person with the club on Wednesday. He impressed during the conversations but United’s decision-makers ultimately settled unanimously on Rangnick.
Rangnick was at the vanguard of the so-called “gegenpressing” revolution, the Germanic phrase for counter pressing that was adopted by so many of the country’s most famous coaches. Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, and Tuchel are among his many disciples. Klopp has previously described him as the “best German coach” still within the game.