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Wednesday April 15 2020
Rangnick the man to revive Milan

Ralf Rangnick may be something of an unknown quantity in Calcio circles, but Livio Caferoglu explains why he is exactly what Milan need right now.

History tells us German coaches aren’t usually a good fit for Italian clubs. Rudi Voller starred for Roma as a player between 1987 and 1992, but managed them for less than a month in 2004, winning just one of his six games in charge. He remains the only German to have ever coached in Serie A. Despite that, Milan are keen to rewrite history with Ralf Rangnick. And for good reason, too.

For a start, Rangnick is a true student of the game. The 61-year-old had no distinguished playing career to speak of, failing to venture beyond amateur level, and instead spent his younger days looking up to the likes of Arrigo Sacchi and Zdenek Zeman. Such was his admiration for Zeman, from his time coaching Foggia in the early 1990s, that he called the Czech his ‘spiritual brother’.

His most important contribution to German football arguably came away from a football pitch. At a time when most clubs in the country were still adopting back threes and sweepers, Rangnick – then the coach of second-tier side Ulm – appeared on state television in December 1998 with his now-iconic magnetic tactics board, talking up the use of a four-man defence, zonal marking and high pressing.

He was quickly dismissed by the press as nothing more than a ‘Professor’, of the nutty variety, for his unconventional methods. However, less than two years later, Germany hit rock-bottom as they crashed out of Euro 2000 at the group stage. Those same methods went on to transform German football, with its clubs and national team going on to take over the world.

Rangnick may have proved to be a pioneer, but he didn’t get his big break until 2004, when he was handed the reins at Schalke. He led the Royal Blues to a runners-up finish in the Bundesliga, but was sacked midway through his second season. Struggling to shed his ‘professor’ tag, he made the bold decision of dropping into the third tier to manage then-minnows Hoffenheim.

Together with some unprecedented financial backing, Rangnick guided Hoffenheim to the Bundesliga through back-to-back promotions. Yet he still wasn’t getting the recognition he deserved, although it was through no fault of his own. Hoffenheim’s ascent had been bankrolled by a wealthy businessman – a practice that, to this day, is frowned upon by purveyors of the German game.

A return to Schalke in 2011 yielded his best achievements as a football coach, one of which will surely appeal to Milan fans. He led the Gelsenkirchen side to their first-ever Champions League semi-final after they dismantled holders Inter 7-3 on aggregate. The season ended with a domestic cup success, although chronic exhaustion forced him to take a break from football months later.

For the past eight years, he has overseen the rise and rise of Red Bull’s football operations, helping the drinks giant establish itself as a leading player in the sport through his knowledge and expertise. His work can be best seen at RB Leipzig, who have become a top-three Bundesliga team in just a few seasons. Before coronavirus broke out, they thrashed Tottenham Hotspur to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis considered Rangnick as Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal successor in 2018, and reports persist that – after a power grab, resulting in the departure of Zvonimir Boban – he is drawing up plans for the Diavolo’s future alongside the German, who would be given full control of playing and recruitment matters. Not only would that streamline Milan’s boardroom, but it would give them the stability they have long craved.

Rangnick’s track record speaks for itself and Milan should be looking beyond former figures to restore their past glories. The Rossoneri are Italy’s most successful European team. It’s time they started acting like it.

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Have your say...
"Rangnick's record speaks for itself"? What record? A CL semi and top 3 for Red Bull which has some of the deepest pockets in Europe after City and PSG? The article undermined it's own assertion by pointing out that Hoffenheim achieved back to back promotions because of a very wealthy owner. Like I commented on another article a while ago, German coaches are not for Serie A, even if their heroes are Sacchi and Zeman. I think this will end badly for Milan and we will have yet another jahr null.
on the 16th April, 2020 at 2:46pm
Thanks Kristian. My hope is that Milan will place a greater emphasis on bringing players through the youth sector and shelve the scattergun approach to signings, which has completely destroyed any sense of continuity.
on the 16th April, 2020 at 10:00am
He his a good track record with young players, known to be a good merchant. Buying unknown stars that is. Which also is why he needs time, not so much as to adjust but as to get his ideas and concept work.

He could also be a good choice because his football philosophy is in line with AC Milan DNA. 442 zone marking with high pressing and two on top. Boom.

I've been a fan of the idea for a while. Only sad to see Boban and Maldini leave because of that.
on the 15th April, 2020 at 9:17pm
What's Rangnick's track record like when it comes to nurturing young players?
on the 15th April, 2020 at 7:28pm
[...]The case was brought to FIFA, which decided that Genoa has 45 days to pay 800,000. Euro for Filip Jagiełło. If he fails to do so, he may be punished by a transfer ban.
We remind you that Filip Jagiełło became a football player in January 2019, but for half a year he played on loan from Zagłębie Lubin. He went to Italy in the summer. In Serie A he played in six matches, plus one performance in the Italian Cup. His contract with Genoa is valid until June 30, 2023.
on the 15th April, 2020 at 4:41pm
The Polish club won the case in FIFA! Genoa has 45 days to deposit 800,000 euro
Genoa has 45 days to pay 800,000 Euro Zagłębie Lubin for the transfer of Filip Jagiełło. FIFA agreed with the Polish club in this dispute. If the Italians do not pay, they may be punished by a transfer ban.
The Italian club bought the Polish youth representative for 1.2 million euros, but paid out only a part of the Lubin Zagłębie.
on the 15th April, 2020 at 4:40pm
This article ended on a strong statement which then berates all of the preceding argument. Don't fall into the trap of assuming that because a club was the most successful team that they should treat themselves as a different class, deserving of special treatment. That is what landed the club losing millions upon millions for decades and has doomed the club to it's current mediocrity due to the predacessors implementing an unsustainable business model. I'm a Milan fan, but also a realist.
on the 15th April, 2020 at 12:07pm

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