how Manchester United’s new manager has helped shape modern football – The Athletic

This piece was originally published in January 2021. It has been updated to reflect Ralf Rangnick agreeing to a deal to become interim manager of Manchester United and other changes in European football since the start of the year.

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

That is perhaps why Tuchel, then at Borussia Dortmund, is shown praising a style “defined by hard work, compact defending and quick transitions, all of which they try to perfect.” Tuchel makes a prescient prediction: “When you see their commitment to the way they play and how well it works, then you know their success will not be a one-off.”

Another Bundesliga coach bearing witness to Leipzig’s sophistication in the video is Julian Nagelsmann of Hoffenheim, now the man in charge at Bayern Munich via two seasons at RB Leipzig. Nagelsmann observes that “RB’s attitude to defending, with far more aggression, and hunting in higher numbers, was far better than ours” after his side’s 2-1 defeat in Saxony in January 2017. “That kind of defending is typical of the top teams in Europe,” he adds.

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