How the new Manchester United manager helped shape modern football – the Athletic


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This article was originally published in January 2021. It has been updated to reflect Ralf Rangnick’s agreement to become Manchester United’s interim manager and other changes in European football since the start of the year.

It starts with Thomas Tuchel. Chelsea’s Champions League-winning coach is the first face you see in RB Leipzig’s “Playing Philosophy” video, a 12-minute showreel for potential players. Made in the club’s first Bundesliga season in 2016-17 with Ralph Hasenhuttl at the helm, it conveys a sense of pride in their highly evolved tactics, but somehow betrays a newcomer’s need for external validation.

Perhaps that is why Tuchel, then at Borussia Dortmund, praises a style “defined by hard work, compact defense and quick transitions, which they all try to perfect”. Tuchel makes a premonitory prediction: “When you see their commitment to the way they play and how well it works, then you know their success will not be unique.”

Another Bundesliga coach testifying to Leipzig’s sophistication in the video is Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann, now the man in charge of Bayern Munich through two seasons at RB Leipzig. Nagelsmann observes that “RB’s attitude towards defense, with much more aggression and hunting in greater numbers, was much better than ours” after his team’s 2-1 loss to Saxony in January 2017. “ This kind of defense is typical of the best teams. in Europe, ”he adds.

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