Just imagine if Rangnick was British or Knew The Club

John Nicholson

Manchester United have not been brilliant since Ralf Rangnick was appointed but the improvement is clear. He deserves more than suspicion.


While I don’t think anyone would suggest Manchester United have been playing constant fantastic football since Ralf Rangnick arrived, the fact is, as Matt Stead stated yesterday: ‘Since Rangnick’s first match in charge, only Manchester City have more Premier League points and goals, while no team has lost fewer games.’

That is pretty good. So good in fact, if it had been achieved by someone more favoured by the press and mainstream media, especially if they were British and not foreign, the manager would not be suffering so many slings and arrows of outrageous nonsense and instead would be lavished with far too much praise, nodding heads and comments such as ‘he’s gone in there and done a great job’. That is not what Ralf has experienced, despite inheriting a team that has been put together thoughtlessly and without craft or intelligence. Instead, he has been held up, poked, prodded, slapped around and even mocked.

In the febrile world of tabloid b*llocks, Rangnick is being forced into a few different boxes whether he fits them or not. Basically, being foreign and wearing glasses is enough to have you marked down as some sort of professor, or that favourite tabloid word only ever used disparagingly: ‘hipster’.

Don’t forget, just reading The Guardian makes you a professor of literature in these eyes.

The Independent, The Guardian and The Times

Also having invented something which is literally a foreign word, Jeff, in this case ‘gegenpressing’ – it doesn’t matter whether he did or didn’t invent it – means you are some sort of beta male swot. And beta male swots must have the pish taken out of them, especially when wearing glasses and being foreign and not having been a legendary player.

So all signs of gegenpressing must be analysed and if there is not enough, or it does not happen all the time, then he’s a fraud. Because any intellectual pretensions must be resisted. Remember the whole facile Fraudiola tag? Same thing. Foreigns coming over here with fancy ideas that are really just pretentious nonsense. Shouting beats thinking for this mob.

Any ideas or philosophies must be debunked and dismissed in favour of Knowing The League and Knowing The Club. A foreigner cannot know the league or the club, obviously, because no-one has a television in Europe and full-time football professionals would simply not even be curious about Manchester United.

Yes, the level of stupidity can be exhausting.

The Proper Football Man pundit or ex-player/manager demands a free hit at Ralf because he has no playing career to speak of. This is pretty much a crime against football and as soon as there is a dip in form – and even if there isn’t – it will be used against this interloper. The lads don’t respect him because he’s got no playing reputation, y’see. They won’t play for him and why should they; what’s he ever done? He doesn’t even know the league.

On top of this, most of Ralf’s work has been as a director of football, not as a gum-chewing manager who specialises in giving the lads a rocket, or indulging that time-honoured brilliant management tactic of knowing who to give a cuddle and who to give a kick up the backside. Because life is that simple.

You also must remember that having worked at clubs like Hannover 96, 1899 Hoffenheim, Schalke 04 and RB Leipzig is no qualification for that section of our wonderful media who would think being a former Burnley boss is a much, much better prerequisite for the United job. I’m not exaggerating. Sean Dyche knows the club, after all.

All of this is going on all the time. Manchester United is always news, of course. And when there is no news, you’d better make sure there is news. Drum it up using stereotypes and xenophobia if you can because in Brexit Britain, that’s where the money is. What is this Rangnick? How can he be a manager for a few months and then a consultant? The mechanics of the modern world of football are too complicated and obscure for this audience and for those writing about it. Understanding the modern world is much less of a priority than asserting national stereotypes.

Contrast all of this to how British managers are treated. Moyes, Lampard, Howe, et al, who have done less to progress football as a whole, are treated as equals to those who have done more. The domestic manager is brown-nosed from pillar to post, and is said to have done a great job when they haven’t. Their obvious flaws are overlooked but if one of them should get their side into the top half of the table, it is declared to be simply brilliant yet simultaneously used as symbolic of the bias against them. They’re not foreign, even though that goes against almost all the facts which suggest British managers are treated far more favourably and given far better opportunities than they are qualified to take. Is it like this in other European countries? Does their media treat intelligent people with suspicion? Do they vaunt the limited or is it a British thing?

Rangnick, rather brilliantly, has treated all the daily hysteria and blatant anti-intellectualism with calm reason, seasoned with a slight look of ‘are you serious?’ as someone tries to dig out a story around him from absolutely nothing. Ultimately, that’s what a section of the press and media hates most. If you won’t play their witless games, they’ll turn on you at every opportunity. A 4-2 win away at Leeds is a very good result, but you can be sure that somewhere it’ll be turned into another crisis because distortion, lies and speculation about distortions and lies is what passes for truth in this peculiar dystopia we called Britain.