It looks like Manchester United hotshot Cristiano Ronaldo could be hard-pressed and huffing ‘n puffing a lot more if the new interim gaffer Ralf Rangnick were to have it all his way the moment he comes on board.
The German tactician is more than just an advocate of hard pressing on the pitch when off the ball and is actually regarded as the Godfather of gegen-pressing, with his famous contemporaries like Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel being firm adherents to the discipline.
There should be no doubts then as to how Rangnick will be insisting on United to play the moment he steps in officially to execute his duties, even if it is to the detriment of stars like the Portuguese striker. Looks like the pair could be in for some difficult conversations with Rangnick obviously having his own views on how Ronaldo should play his role in assisting with the pressing when they are not on the ball.
Although the Portuguese ace has saved Manchester United on numerous occasions already since he joined this season, it should be fair to assume he could be in for a a bit of a shock awakening under his incoming new interim boss Rangnick.
Rangnick, 63, is already confirmed on a six-month deal as interim manager until the end of the season, before being elevated subsequently to a seat upstairs at Old Trafford and taking on an alleged two-year consultancy role at the club.
Speaking in a video on The Coaches Voice on YouTube, the incoming United boss said: “You need to be aware what kind of football you really want to play.
“A little bit of pressing? Come on, what is a little bit of pressing? A little bit of pressing is like a little bit of pregnant. Either you are pregnant or not? Either you want to play pressing or not?”
It should be interesting to see how this plays out with 36-year-old Ronaldo who – despite still being in excellent shape for his age – has a tendency to conserve energy and carefully time his lively bursts coming alive in the box, while acting generally as a ‘passenger’ when his side is without the ball. This would obviously not bode well for the Portuguese prima donna with his new boss.
Already entering the twilight of his long-glittering career, the former Real Madrid and Juventus man is not known to have a particular penchant for doing what would be to him now anything beyond what he consideres his main job requirements, which would be to score goals and nothing beyond that, having said as much in the earlier part of the season when word had gone around that he was not fulfilling his other responsibilities as expected to help out with defensive duties.
His stats so far this season have shown that he has managed just 39 pressures off the ball compared to Phil Foden’s 133, for example.
“High pressing, counter-pressing football,” Rangnick says when asked to describe his philosophy. “Fast, proactive, exciting. We do not like back passes to the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper should have the fewest touches.”
It is only to be expected that once Rangnick walks into Old Trafford, he should have his gameplan as to how to put his famous Portuguese striker to even better use, if the latter were to oblige and play fetch, of course.
The conundrum that the Godfather of gegen-pressing would be facing is the one that ultimately cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job, and one that could have a major impact on deciding how well the new man in the United hotseat performs during his new interim term in charge.