Rangnick says he eventually wants to use 'one formation' at Man United

‘In the long term, it would be good to have one formation’: Ralf Rangnick defends his tinkering and insists tactics are just a ‘means to an end’, as Man United interim boss points to Jurgen Klopp taking ‘three months to develop his Liverpool side’

  • Manchester United have used several formations under boss Ralf Rangnick 
  • His preferred 4-2-2-2 system has been heavily criticised by fans this season 
  • Rangnick insisted he eventually wants to settle on just one main way of playing 
  • He pointed to Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel needing time to make their mark 

Ralf Rangnick has insisted he is targeting using just one main formation and style of play at Manchester United, after his first weeks in charge were rocked by unsuccessful attempts with other systems.

Since replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer until the end of the season, Rangnick – who is widely credited for helping introduce the gegenpress into modern football – has favoured a 4-2-2-2 shape, which has been heavily criticised.

After several limp performances, the interim manager has now shaken up his blueprint, although he has now revealed he hopes to settle for just one formation more suited to his struggling squad. 

Ralf Rangnick has plans to eventually adopt just one main formation at Manchester United

Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of United’s FA Cup clash against Aston Villa, Rangnick provided a fascinating insight into his attempts to find the ideal line-up. 

‘I mean, firstly for me, the formation is a means to an end, it’s a tool,’ he said. 

‘Of course, in my opinion, this formation has to fit to the players you have available. 

United have struggled to impress under Rangnick, who has used several formations to no avail

‘The problem is that if we play in a 4-2-2-2, that means that the space behind the two strikers and the two 6’s is that you don’t have a player, you can only fill that gap by the two 10’s. This is the most challenging and sophisticated job in that system. 

‘That’s why we changed in the last two games to a 4-4-2, like against Burnley, when we played more or less like a 4-2-2 flat with two offensive wingers, and in the second half of the Wolves game to a 3-4-3.’

Rangnick has been hailed as a major influence on the careers of several elite-level managers, including Premier League peers Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel.

Pointing to the successful of his former mentees, the 63-year-old has also insisted that introducing a new style is not a quick process.

Interim boss Rangnick has also insisted that finding the perfect system is a long-term process

‘In the long term, it would be good to have one formation or one style of play,’ he added. ‘It was not just a thing overnight. 

‘Jurgen Klopp, when he arrived, it took him three months to develop his Liverpool side. Thomas Tuchel, when he arrived at Chelsea, from day one, he played with a back three. 

‘And then at Manchester City, with Pep [Guardiola] now – five years with Manchester City – they selected this whole squad for this possession-based football with high counter-pressing moments.’

Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel both took time to make their mark, according to Rangnick

United suffered their first defeat under their temporary coach against Wolves, leading to calls for the team to enter the transfer market in an attempt to breathe new life into their faltering push for Champions League football.

Rangnick, however, believes his primary goal is to improve his current squad.

He said: ‘Right now, for me, my job is to work with the players that I have available, that I have inherited here.’

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