Ralf Rangnick’s revolution at Manchester United is barely a month old, but his fingerprints are already visible everywhere you look at the club.
Two Premier League games and a week of training may have fallen victim to a coronavirus outbreak, but not a second has been lost in Rangnick’s hands. Areas for improvement have been identified; swift and decisive decisions followed.
One of Rangnick’s first acts was to bring a sports psychologist to Old Trafford, with Sascha Lense, a close confidante during his tenure at RB Leipzig, joining the staff at United’s backroom.
Lense’s appointment raised a number of relevant questions, ranging from the benefits of employing a sports psychologist, to the overall goal, to the willingness or reluctance of players to get involved.
But above all, the burning question is why was a sports psychologist not a position of unquantifiable importance to Rangnick and which he believes will be commonplace in all sports for the foreseeable future. – in situ at Manchester United in the first place?
Monday December 27 7:00 p.m.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” Rangnick told Sky Sports exclusively. “I know that in Germany there are quite a few clubs that don’t work with a sports psychologist. But for me that makes perfect sense.
“Each club has different experts for the goalkeeper, for physical performance, for different areas of the pitch – defense, midfield, attack. The team of experts in some teams is probably bigger than the number of players. in a team.
Man Utd results under Rangnick
“If you then consider that the brain, the head, the way players, staff or coaches think is the most relevant, then for me it makes sense to have the best possible expert in this area in your area. staff.
“That’s what it’s all about, helping players think the good things and not think the bad. To develop players, the brain has to help the body perform at the highest level possible.
“It’s part of the puzzle, of the puzzle. It’s important for any top club, and Manchester United are one of the biggest clubs in the world – having the best people possible, and they should at least have all these little ones. parts available.
“It shouldn’t be the case in some areas, we don’t have anyone. I firmly believe that every club in the future should have someone in this department.”
It would be misleading to pin Manchester United’s reluctance under Rangnick’s predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, or throughout the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, on the absence of a sports psychologist at Old Trafford, but so that ‘it is neglected, especially nowadays and age, suggests a lack of forethought on the part of previous regimes.
While this appointment won’t make United title contenders overnight, it does provide Rangnick players with the tools to meet the high expectations that come with playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, and focuses, first and foremost, on a personal rather than professional level.
“Players at this level are under pressure to deliver and perform at the highest level possible,” Rangnick added. “Sometimes they may need help and may need someone to talk to.
“It shouldn’t always be just the manager or the head coach. It is important for players to know that there is a neutral person, an expert, who they can turn to in situations where they might need. a helping hand, or even someone to just listen for them.
“In Germany we had the case of Robert Enke, who committed suicide while still the goalkeeper for the German national team. If you look at that aspect of the game, it’s important to have someone ‘one in your staff. “
As for Lense himself, the 43-year-old has moved as much as possible to the United Carrington training complex, which has just reopened after being closed for eight days due to a Covid outbreak. .
“Sascha watches every training session, he is part of every meeting, he is part of the staff and he speaks regularly with the players,” said Rangnick.
“Of course it doesn’t have to be, we don’t force the players to talk to Sascha, but they know he’s there. He’s a smart and decent guy, and he’s the best at his job, I Know this because we worked together in Leipzig for three years and the players will find out very soon, if they haven’t already.
Rangnick’s sentiment about Lense could quite easily apply to his tenure at Manchester United.
The first steps have been taken and a long road of discovery awaits us, but his first steps in the Manchester United hotseat speak of a manager with a solid understanding of the big picture, if we hadn’t already realized it. .
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