Newly-appointed Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick has revealed he tried and failed to sign Jadon Sancho for RB Leipzig when the forward was aged just 17.
United supporters heard Rangnick speak for the first time as their interim manager this morning after the 63-year-old took over the reins from Michael Carrick at Old Trafford.
Rangnick’s opening game in charge will be at home to Crystal Palace this weekend, with the club languishing down in seventh place in the Premier League table.
A daunting task awaits for Rangnick given United’s underperforming squad have faced heavy criticism for their lacklustre displays in recent weeks, particularly towards the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign.
However, Rangnick is raring to get started in the hot seat and ‘very excited’ to have so many gifted young talents at his disposal, name-checking Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Sancho in his interview with MUTV.
The German is clearly an admirer of Sancho and lifted the lid on a meeting they once had in London before the attacker snubbed Leipzig to instead join rivals Borussia Dortmund back in 2017.
‘I’m very excited. They have so many top, talented, young players,’ Rangnick said.
‘Jadon Sancho I knew from the Bundesliga. As a matter of fact, I met him when he was 17 in London. We were at the time trying to convince him to come to Leipzig and he decided a couple of months later to go to Dortmund which was not a wrong step from his perspective.
‘Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford… there are so many talented players in the squad.
‘On top of that there are the experienced top players and to work with those kind of players and to help them to get better, I’m very much looking forward to that.’
At his opening press conference, Rangnick discussed a range of topics including his unique philosophy, Carrick’s departure and the upcoming January transfer window.
The ex-Hoffenheim head coach – who left his directorial role at Lokomotiv Moscow to join United – also explained how Cristiano Ronaldo would fit into his plans for the second half of the campaign.
‘You always have to adapt your style or your idea of football to the players you have available, not vice versa,’ Rangnick replied when asked about Ronaldo’s potential role.
‘Having seen Cristiano yesterday in the second half [against Arsenal], at the age of 36, amazing, top professional, at his age I’ve never seen a player who is still that physically fit.
‘He is still a player who can easily make the difference. It’s about how can we develop the whole team, it’s not only about Cristiano.
‘We play in the most competitive league in the world, so we need all the players on board.
‘What I saw from Cristiano yesterday, he’s more than willing to do that, to put his input into the team and the other teammates will have to do the same.’
Rangnick warned fans they may need to be patient for his work on the training field to be reflected on matchdays while players learn to adapt to his playing style.
‘I think to gain control on games in the future it’s got to do with playing proactively, no matter if we have the ball ourselves or if the other team is in possession,’ he went on.
‘It’s about helping the team to play together, it’s about togetherness, it’s also about team spirit, we saw it yesterday, if we compare the two halves it was completely different.
‘Having these unique fans behind us, this will help the team to gain confidence, we could see it in the second half.
‘Obviously it’s not easy, I cannot do it in one or two training sessions, not even in one or two weeks.
‘It’s not about playing pressing or counter-pressing for pressing sakes, it’s about control, this is the major target.’
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