The smiles are back at Manchester United! On Friday, new manager Ralf Rangnick held his first press conference at Old Trafford and the general feeling was that of hope and expectation.
The German manager is taking over a team with several talented players, but one that has also underperformed for many years now.
His biggest challenge will be to fashion an identity for the team and get them to play with style and guile.
For a man widely heralded as the godfather of German football, Rangnick still has a lot to prove. He took up a job that other experienced managers like Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho didn’t do too well.
Carrick keeps Manchester United in contention
For all of the hope that Rangnick has brought to Manchester United’s fan base, though, he has Michael Carrick to thank for keeping the ship steady.
The former England midfielder was in charge as caretaker manager for three matches and managed to keep them in contention both domestically and in Europe.
Last week’s win over Villarreal saw Manchester United qualify for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Thursday’s victory against Arsenal, meanwhile, boosted the club’s hopes of finishing in the top four.
Carrick may have been part of Solskjaer’s failed project, but he has done a yeoman’s job by keeping the team together. It will make things easier for Rangnick.
Rangnick inheriting a stable team
Had Rangnick taken over immediately after Solskjaer’s departure, he would’ve got a team in crisis.
However, the German tactician is inheriting a stable team thanks to the good job that Carrick did. Manchester United have looked more organized in their last three matches and that is something Rangnick can build on.
“I met with Michael and Kieran [McKenna] but especially with Michael two days ago,” Rangnick said at his unveiling, as quoted by Manutd.com.
“I had a long private conversation with him for more than an hour and I was trying to convince him to stay on board, but he had obviously taken that decision weeks ago that he needed a break and a rest after 30 years of professional football," he added. "In the end, I had to accept that, and in a way, I can also understand his decision.”
It’s obvious that Rangnick appreciates the work Carrick did in his three games in charge. And with Manchester United set for a more favorable run of matches between now and January, he can build the team into a winsome side.