'Continental nobody' may be Reds' somebody
Published 04/01/2011 | 05:00
Liverpool's fans know who they want to replace Roy Hodgson, but the club's owners are evidently less certain.
Kenny Dalglish seems the obvious choice to return to the post he last occupied 19 years ago, given the vociferous backing he has received from the Kop.
However, Ralf Rangnick, the little-known former manager of German side Hoffenheim, is a little more left-field.
It would be easy to characterise the 52-year-old as a continental nobody, to mock his previous engagements at Ulm and Reutlingen in his homeland and his brief playing stint at Sussex County League side Southwick FC as evidence of how inappropriate his CV is for the task of taking over English football's most decorated club.
Yet his work at Hoffenheim qualifies him perfectly. After comparatively unsuccessful spells at Stuttgart and Schalke, Rangnick, nicknamed 'the Professor' by a German football establishment suspicious of his modernity, took the tiny village club -- admittedly bankrolled by the billionaire Dieter Hopp -- from the German third division to the cusp of Europe.
His Hoffenheim side played thrilling, rapid football -- an offensive 4-3-3 with two wingers employed purely offensively -- which took Germany by storm and by surprise; he sought out bargains, like striker Vedad Ibisevic; and he invested in youth, preferring to sign players between the ages of 17 and 24. He is fluent in English, having studied in Sussex.
On Saturday, he left Hoffenheim, together with his assistant, ostensibly over the sale of defender Gustavo Luiz to Bayern Munich.
Rumour suggests that he -- or Dalglish, Guus Hiddink or Frank Rijkaard -- might take over when Fenway Sports Group decide to end Hodgson's reign. Rangnick remains the outsider, as he has always been. He likes it that way. (© Daily Telegraph, London)