Rangnick: How I spotted Tuchel's talent

Thursday 28 April 2022 09:59

Ralf Rangnik has opened up on his relationship with Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel in an exclusive matchday Q&A, as the pair prepare to meet for the first time in a Premier League game.

Ralf will pit his wits against the Chelsea boss on Thursday evening at Old Trafford (19:45 BST), with the Reds looking to respond to last weekend's defeat at Arsenal.

The interim manager explained how he first noticed Tuchel's obvious coaching talent while his compatriot was still a young player, and went on to discuss the upcoming match in greater detail.

Rangnick told us about the importance of Fred and Scott McTominay to United's defensive structure, what has impressed him so much about Anthony Elanga, and what the Reds can hope to gain from the season's final four matches.

Read the full interview below...
What’s the team news to start with, as you’ve suggested there are quite a few absentees, so can you just update us?
“Yes, apart from the players who had been missing in recent games, Fred will not be available unfortunately for tomorrow’s game and we have, on top of that, Harry Maguire missing from the game tomorrow and not being available and Jadon Sancho not being available because of tonsillitis illness. We also have to wait until tomorrow with regard to Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Those three are additional question marks or missing players on top of the other four.”
Is Fred that far away as you suggested you hoped he’d be back soon?
“He’s not far away and I very much hope he’ll be available for the Brentford game. He tried to train with the team yesterday and, after training, I spoke with him and he said he felt not 100 per cent. With a player like Fred, who is always committed, always giving his very best and always fighting and in hunt mode, it doesn’t make sense. I didn’t want to risk a re-injury which is why we decided, together with him, he won’t be part of the group tomorrow.”
Some people say Fred has been one of our best outfield players, particularly in your time being at the club, would you agree with that?
“Yes, I mean himself and Scotty and Nemanja [Matic] are the only defensive midfield players we have in our squad. Obviously two of them, Scotty and Fred, whenever they play together we have the best possible results and the highest win ratio with not that many goals conceded when they play together. That is why it’s important to have them available but, as I said, unfortunately, Fred will not be part of the group tomorrow.”
We’ve seen youngsters like Alvaro Fernandez, Will Fish and Shola Shoretire in training so can some of them be involved in the squad?
“There will definitely be three or four as part of the squad and on the teamsheet but, again, it’s important to give those players a debut when it has to be the right moment for them. I don’t think I would do those players a favour if I brought them into not the right game or right moment. It should be a special moment for them but also the right moment for them, in order to perform.”

Ralf reveals squad news for Chelsea game


Rangnick has updates on Fred and Cavani, plus two new absentees and an injury doubt.

Talking of youngsters, Anthony Elanga is 20 today, he’s done well so do you feel he is ready to take the next steps in his career?
“Well, since he is a clear head, since he is a top mentality player, I'm sure he can take and make the next steps, which are also important for him to take. It’s not for him an issue of character or mentality. I’m pretty sure, whenever I saw him train or play, even in the first training session the night before the Crystal Palace game, I knew his name but had never seen him play before. So I asked my coaching staff at the time, Kieran [McKenna] and Darren Fletcher: ‘Who is he? I haven’t seen him play before.’ Since then, he has always been a player who gave his very best, where I could always be assured what kind of level, physical level and mentality level, he will invest.”
What do you want to see from your players in these final four games?
“I mean, as we did for at least 60 minutes against Arsenal, I think I wouldn’t say we were the better team but, on the eye level for sure, in parts, we were the better team and could have won the game if Bruno had converted that penalty. From that very moment, it would have been a different game and we might have been in a position to even win the game. We didn’t, we missed the penalty, hit the crossbar and, two times, hit the post and were not very lucky with the VAR decisions, as I said after the game. It was the kind of performance we need to show, we need to fight and even more so against a team like Chelsea. We need to be behind the ball, be aggressive, with all the players involved and take the ball away from them and not let them play. We must create chances, on the other hand, in our moments in possession and create as many chances as we possibly can to score the necessary goals. We showed against Tottenham and Leeds away that we are able to score goals but it would also be helpful not to concede in the early stages of the games, as we did against Liverpool, Manchester City and in the last game at Arsenal.”

United still an attractive option


The interim manager pledges to help Erik ten Hag bring in quality recruits over the summer.

Thomas Tuchel said you convinced him to try coaching in his Stuttgart days – what did you see in him back then that made you think he might become a top coach?
“He was one of my players at Ulm, unfortunately only for six months as he had serious problems with his knee that forced him to terminate and finish his career at a very, very early stage. But even in those six months, you could see he always asked questions: Why are we doing this or doing that? We played with a back four, zone marking, ball-oriented zone marking, which at the time, back in 1997, was pretty unusual in Germany and, when you are managing players for a couple of weeks or months, you can tell if this person wants to become a manager, head coach or sporting director. In most cases, after a couple of weeks, you can tell who could become a manager. With Thomas, I was not very surprised that he took that pathway, three or four years later, I was head coach at Stuttgart and he became our Under-15s coach, I convinced him to become our Under-15s coach in Stuttgart, but he later moved on to Mainz as Under-23s coach, before that the Under-19s coach. I was at Hoffenheim at that time, I was trying to convince him to become our Under-23s coach but the sporting director at Mainz, Christian Heidel, had already realised what a next top talented coach he had in his own ranks after Jurgen Klopp and didn’t let him go. A couple of months later, he was Mainz head coach and started a fantastic career, Borussia Dortmund, PSG and now Chelsea. He is one of the best coaches we ever had in Germany.”
There are two home games left so how important is it to end on a high in front of our fans?
“Yes, very important, but, in those remaining four games, we just have to try to get the best possible results out of those games. Hopefully, we’ll start tomorrow against Chelsea and then, a couple of days later, at home to Brentford. We owe that to our fantastic supporters and it would also be important for us for next season to finish those two games at home with two good results.”