Ralf Rangnick: Philosphy | Tactics | Style of Play | Formations

Ralf Rangnick is one of those managers who has helped many small clubs become a powerhouse in Europe. In this article, we dissect the philosophy, playing style and tactics of Ralf Rangnick as a manager.

It's very strange that we never heard his name until he was appointed Manchester United interim manager, and that's where we learned who is the architect of the German pressing game. 

The god of pressing game nurtured many young notables and some top German coaches, who later implemented his philosophy in various top Leagues. 

Today, the 'Gegenpressing' word has become buzzword for modern German coaching. It has become popular since Jurgen Klopp first came in Premier League and executed on the Reds. However, we didn't know under Ralf Rangnick's mentorship Jurgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and Julian Nagelsmann carried gegenpressing.

So, who is Ralf Rangnick? 

Ralf Rangnick started his coaching career in early 1980 and helped many third and fourth tire clubs secure a place in Germany's top-flight league, German Bundesliga, such as Schalke, Hoffenheim, Stuttgart and RB Leipzig. He guided Schalke to the Champions League semi-final and German Cup glory. 

After taking hiatus from coaching, he became director of Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig and New York Red Bulls. He also worked at Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow in a managerial position. Rangnick was linked with many top teams such as Chelsea, AC Milan and the German national team. 

His renowned philosophy was admired by many top European teams. 

Sportco will do a comprehensive dissection of the tactics and Philosophy of Ralf Rangnick:  

The distinguished German coach, Ralf Rangnick revolutionized his tactics, and his winning mentality was cherry on top. He spent most of his coaching years at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig, where he mainly used 4-3-3 and 4-4-2, which could turn into 4-2-2-2.   

Most often, Rangnick deployed 4-4-2 and 4-2-2-2 tactics. This meant he would have an additional central midfielder, who would also play an additional striker role. 

The other two strikers press higher up the pitch while covering the spaces behind them and outnumbering the oppositions, leading to misplaced passes of opposition. 

His tactics require a lot of running, intensity, and physicality, so Rangnick prefers young squads. Who can cover the entire ground quickly and keep the tempo of the game high. 

Ralf Rangnick: Pressing and counter-attacking tactics

Ralf Rangnick has always been fond of the high pressing game. He likes his players to press early to win the ball high up the pitch. This early pressing quickly turns into the attack, helping players find opposition jumbled defense's gaps close to their goal. 

There are certain principles of the Rangnick pressing game. He wants his player to pressurize ball-carrier with a numerical advantage with at least one player. 

To execute his plan, they make certain traps for opponents to put them in a challenging position with several players pressing with numerical superiority. They constantly press, forcing the opposition to play into their trap. Hence, winning the possession back. 

After winning back the possession, the transition phase leads to a quick counter-attack where the players will play vertical passes, allowing players to get quickly towards the goal. 

According to Rangnick, the players should complete their counter-attack within ten seconds, as this is the time window with a higher possibility of scoring. 

During his training, Rangnick has kept ten seconds timer so, when players are on the counter-attack, they should find the back of the net within 10 seconds. 

Seconds after regaining position, players look for the most offensive player on the pitch, while wingers make darting runs to support the receiving player and create spaces.  

His offensive and defensive transition are similar. During the defensive transition, the pressing is accomplished with several players, and within eight seconds, players should have the ball, as their opponents are still disorganized. 

Although many football pundits talk about Klopp when it comes to high-pressing, although the real advocate of the high-pressing game is Ralf Rangnick. 


Ralf Rangnick is clear among top German coaches regarding the pressing game. Hence, he's has been called "The Professor." 

However, it remains to be seen how far the 63-year-old will take Manchester United in all the competition, after starting his first game in a winning fashion. 

Although we did see many changes in the Manchester United game against Crystal Palace, as they dominated the game, with a high tempo, high intensity and always on the front. 

Man United were an ascendant team winning the possession in the final third 12 times. According to Opta- that's near twice as many as they have managed in any other Premier League game all season.

Will he end the Manchester United four years trophy drought? Well, the future will tell.     

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