The three coaches who inspired Rangnick

Friday 03 December 2021 11:00

So much has been said about the elite coaches who idolise their mentor Ralf Rangnick - like Jurgen Klopp, Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel to name a few - but who did the Manchester United interim manager look up to in his early career?

Club reporter Stewart Gardner put that question to the forward-thinking German during our in-depth interview, which is available to watch now via the United App, and MUTV.

Seated inside Old Trafford, surrounded by history, Rangnick looks back on his story and points to the three men who helped him to become the respected ‘professor’ of football he is today. 

“Yes, I would say there were two or three people who inspired me,” explains Ralf. “In the first instance, it was a friend of mine called Helmut Gross.
“He inspired not only me but also quite a few other German coaches. He was an amateur coach himself. In normal business he was an engineer building bridges, but at the time he was probably the first coach in Germany who played with a back four with ball-orientated zonal marking. 

“I met him when I was 23, 24, and he had great influence on my development as a coach, and since then we have worked together at Red Bull and in Hoffenheim. 
“During my time as a coach, I was also inspired at the time by Arrigo Sacchi at Milan in the 1980s. They not only dominated European football, but they also created a very sustainable, a very special, a very unique style of football. 

“And in my first time of coaching in my home town in Backnang we played against Valeriy Lobanovskyi’s Dynamo Kiev, I was on the pitch and I have told the story many times that after 10 minutes I had to count the players on the pitch because I felt as if they had one or two players more than my team. After the game I spoke to Valeriy Lobanovskyi with a translator and they told me that they trained that every day, pressing all over the pitch every time. 
Ralf Rangnick has spoken positively about Helmut Gross (not pictured), Arrigo Sacchi and Valeriy Lobanovsky.
“So I went to see their training sessions and from then on I knew why they were playing like this and that it was possible to play like this if you consequently work on this on a daily basis in training.”

Look out for more of our Rangnick interview from 08:00 GMT on Saturday.