Ralf Rangnick believes the rebuild at Manchester United could be as short as a two-year plan.
United are certain to end trophyless and although they only trail fourth-placed Tottenham by three points, their next three fixtures are away at Liverpool and Arsenal and at home to Chelsea.
Seven players are all but certain to leave in the summer, with Lee Grant, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Edinson Cavani all out of contract. Nemanja Matic has already confirmed he is leaving and Andreas Pereira is waiting for a permanent transfer to Flamengo to go through.
READ MORE: United targeting centre-back
United’s trophy drought will stray towards the six-year mark in 2023 and the club are already distancing themselves from the ill-fated ‘cultural reset’ under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2019.
Jurgen Klopp took over at Liverpool in October 2015 and the club reached their sixth domestic and European final with a 3-2 win over Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday. Liverpool ended their 30-year title drought under Klopp in 2020, having won a sixth European Cup the year before, and added a record ninth League Cup in February.
Liverpool finished eighth in 2015-16 before moving up to fourth in 2016-17 when they had no European football. Liverpool stayed fourth in 2017-18 before they finished second on 97 points in 2018-19. Liverpool won the title with 99 points in 2019-20 before plummeting down to third on 69 points last season.
“I don’t think a club like Manchester United can afford to take three or four years in order to achieve that and I don’t think that is necessary,” Rangnick said.
“We spoke about Liverpool earlier on and how long it took them. After two or three windows, if you know what you are looking for. If you don’t know what you are looking for you will always be looking for a needle in a haystack If you know what kind of football you want to play and what kind of profiles for each individual position, then it is about finding them and convincing them to come.
“Liverpool finished eighth. The year after they didn’t play European football at all, so the full focus in the second season of Jurgen was on the Premier League and the national cup competitions. Then it took two transfer windows. But even in the other transfer windows that came later on, they made a lot of very, very good transfers and signings.
“This is what it is all about. It is not complicated. It is not rocket science. But in order to have the best possible wind, you need to know what your destination hasn is. If you don’t know that, it is always difficult.”
Rangnick scoffed at the suggestion United, who are certain to go at least a decade without winning the Premier League title, could suffer a 30-year drought as Liverpool did as it “is pretty obvious what needs to change. There needs to be a rebuild for the future. So I don’t think this will happen.”
Liverpool thrashed United 5-0 at Old Trafford in October and many United supporters are dreading a repeat scoreline at Anfield. United started on the front foot six months ago and Bruno Fernandes lashed a one-on-one over the crossbar with the game goalless.
Although United have such a depleted midfield Rangnick has little choice but to start the departing Nemanja Matic and wantaway Paul Pogba, he is optimistic United can strike a ‘proactive’ balance against one of the best teams in the world.
“I wasn’t here when the game took place but obviously when you lose 5-0 at home and you are down 4-0 at half-time, then something must have gone wrong in that game,” Rangnick remarked.
“If I remember the line-up, almost all of the players were available. For us, it is about showing that commitment on the pitch. We need to be aggressive. Although there might be a lot of defensive work coming up for us tomorrow , we still need to be proactive.Just sitting back and keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t concede any goals is not enough against a team like Liverpool.
“We need to have the best possible balance of being defensively organized but still proactive, aggressive and whenever there is a chance to create moments ourselves, be it in transitional moments or in possession we have to do that.
“We will travel there and our clear goal is to win the game knowing that we are playing against a top team and knowing we have to play at our very very best with and without the ball.
“But I believe we can do that. I’m pretty sure the players want to do that. We had a good training session today. It doesn’t matter what I’m telling you right now, it’s up to the players to show that commitment on the pitch tomorrow.”