Ralf Rangnick is said to have immediately impressed Manchester United’s hierarchy during discussions to take the job by identifying the club’s main area of weakness.
The 63-year-old was appointed interim manager after meeting with football director John Murtough, technical director Darren Fletcher and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, and penned a six-month deal with a further two years tacked on working as a consultant.
The German has so far overseen a narrow win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League and a draw with Young Boys in the Champions League, with the latter including wholesale changes intended to give every player at the club a chance to impress.
However, it appears Rangnick had already done his homework on where United needed to strengthen prior to taking the job, and ESPN note that it was central midfield that he was most concerned about.
Rangnick is thought to have told Murtough, Fletcher and Woodward that investment was needed, and immediately pinpointed RB Leipzig’s Amadou Haidara, Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips and Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham as three targets to go out and scout.
Haidara has since been tipped to join United in January, amid reports that the Red Devils are willing to pay the £33m release clause in his Leipzig contract, while Phillips is rumoured to have fallen out with Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa – though that’s a claim he has publicly denied.
As for Bellingham, 90min understands that he’s long been on the radar of not only United, but also Premier League rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. But current club Borussia Dortmund have no appetite to sell the player in 2022, and instead rewarded the talented 18-year-old for his fantastic start in Germany with a new and improved contract.
Rangnick needs to add more mobility and competition for places in a midfield pivot that tends to rely on the availability of Fred and Scott McTominay.
The duo started in the 1-0 victory over Palace at Old Trafford, with Fred even scoring the winner after curling home a superb effort from outside the penalty area.
But both players, who were favourites under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, had areas of their play criticised by Rangnick after the game, with the former Leipzig boss saying: “They did one or two or three mistakes, especially in the first half there were two square passes; one from Scott, one from Fred.
“I don’t like those kinds of balls in midfield in those positions. But overall, when the other team is in possession of the ball, both Fred and Scotty are almost perfect for that kind of football.”