“Any manager news?”
Those three words will be etched into the minds of all Manchester United reporters at this moment in time, an almost inevitable response to every story, tweet or opinion shared, regardless of the subject matter.
The frenzy was sparked by United themselves when they made clear their intentions following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last November. Michael Carrick would oversee things on a caretaker basis, and then Ralf Rannick would lead the side until the end of the season, stepping aside when the right person was identified to take on the permanent role.
“It’s a bit strange,” Fred admitted to TNT Sports Brasil earlier in the week when asked about working under an interim choice. “I know in football it’s important to get good results as soon as possible, but it’s also important to have a long-term plan.
“I think it’s a little bit bad for us not to have one, at the moment it’s all about the short-term goals. We don’t know how it’s going to be after the end of this season.”
Right, said Fred.
United have found themselves in such a managerial mess because they have been far too focused on short-term goals rather than long-term planning, and if they make the same mistake this summer, then they will only continue to repeat the perpetual cycle which they see. them treading water while Man City and Liverpool chase records.
United still wish to appoint a manager before the end of the season, but so much remains up in the air given the fluctuating form on the field, current commitments of candidates for the role, out-of-contract players nearing the end of their deals and the fact that United don’t know which European competition (if any) they will be playing in next season.
A source familiar with the process says United believe ‘the sooner, the better’ a manager is appointed, with the club mindful of Tottenham’s farcical efforts to replace Jose Mourinho last summer.
United football director John Murtough is believed to be heading up the process, with interim manager Rangnick also involved, though his own future is another factor in the complex scenario.
It might be unlikely, but if United were to enjoy a successful end to the season by securing a top-four finish and going far in the Champions League, then they might well be tempted to prolong their gamble on Rangnick.
Sure, such a call might be a similar mistake to that of prematurely appointing Solskjaer, but the interim manager has at least been able to identify the issues at the club and has been a breath of fresh air in regards to his no-nonsense approach.
The German might even point to his own record as further vindication of his credentials, considering United are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games (W4 D3), with no side currently on a longer run without defeat in the competition. In fact, United have lost just one of their 14 league games since Solskjaer left the club.
There is obvious mitigation in the fact that many performances have been really poor under his guidance, but he does deserve some slack given he is looking to implement a strenuous system midway through a season, and on a side who should also take blame for the failings of this campaign.
Throw in the fact that Rangnick has also had to deal with off-field issues at the club, reports of dressing room disharmony and a perceived crisis in his ability, despite only losing one match in normal time, and it is easy to argue the German perhaps deserves more time to actually get on with the job he’s started.
No matter who United decides to appoint this summer, the successful candidate will need time and power to implement serious changes at the club.
If he can keep us this unbeaten run and go far in Europe, then Rangnick might prove he really is worth the gamble.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.