Ralf Rangnick may be on the verge of becoming Manchester United caretaker manager, but the German once had some very positive words for Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool players.
Widely credited as one of the most influential German coaches of all time, Rangnick now stands on the brink of replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford – on a temporary basis for the time being.
Rather unsurprisingly, given their similar footballing philosophies, the former RB Leipzig and Schalke boss has only spoken well of fellow countryman Klopp.
The Liverpool manager is often credited with being one of the architects of so-called “Gegenpressing’ football, the high-intensity, all-action tactic that came to define his spell at Borussia Dortmund.
However, the genesis of that uniquely German idea can, in many ways, be traced back to Rangnick, who first implemented it during early managerial spells with Stuttgart and Ulm.
When Jurgen Klopp entered management with Mainz in the early 2000s, he incorporated many of these same principles into his tactics.
Two decades later, in a case of role reversal, Rangnick highly praised the coaching that has been done by Klopp and his team, which has helped turn Liverpool’s front three into one of the most feared attacks in world football.
“Salah, Firmino and Mane. Three different players from different countries,” Rangnick told Coaches Voice.
“When they joined Liverpool, none of them were natural-born ball winners. They were not pressing machines.
“So the way they play at Liverpool has been the job of the coach and the staff.”
While the former RB Leipzig chief’s legacy and influence isn’t in question, his success in management when it comes to tangible results is harder to quantify.
His greatest achievements on paper came with Schalke, with whom he finished Bundesliga runner-up in 2005, before sealing a historic DFB Pokal win in 2011.
And yet, his work as RB Leipzig’s director of football, where the Backnang-native helped transform the club from amateurs in 2012, to Bundesliga title contenders five years later, is arguably just as impressive.
A true football man, with an intimate understanding of the game, he most certainly can recognise a formidable peer when he meets one – hence his praise of Klopp.
While still in his previous role as RB Leipzig manager in December 2019, he explained the similarities between his footballing approach and that of Klopp’s.
“The style is very similar to Jurgen’s [Klopp]. It’s proactive, it’s high pressing, counter-pressing. Once we have won the ball we don’t want to waste any time by square passes or back passes,” Rangnick stated to Sky Sports.
“It’s definitely no coincidence that [Klopp] has four former players of mine (Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita, Sadio Mane and Joel Matip) because it shows that he is, in fact, looking for the same kind of players, with the same assets, with the same mentality as we do.”