Former Nigeria and Hoffenheim forward Chinedu Obasi told ESPN that not only are Manchester United lucky to have Ralf Rangnick as their new manager, but that superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will thrive under the coach’s tutelage.
Obasi, who was recruited to Hoffenheim by Rangnick and played for the German club for five seasons from 2007 to 2012, said that the tactician will be the perfect person to get the best out of veteran Ronaldo.
Ronaldo scored two historic goals, passing the 800 mark, at Old Trafford on Thursday night, with the new manager watching from the director’s box and taking notes, as United claimed a 3-2 win over the Gunners.
Obasi said: “Ralf brings structure to a team so that everyone is able to function.
“Is he going to be able to work with Ronaldo? I believe so because he knows how to work with players and knows how to get the best out of people.”
Obasi pointed out that the super-fit Ronaldo tended to do the work of multiple players, but that Rangnick would be able to improve the team’s structure to allow the Portugal star to save his energy for scoring goals.
He added: “His [Rangnick’s] structure is built all the way to the back, so if the strikers are pressing, there is always somebody behind them.
“We saw Ronaldo tracking back and I have seen him tracking back almost to the box in some games. Ralf can work with him so that if he can save that energy, he can press from the front and does not need to go all the way back.
“That will benefit both Ronaldo and the team in the end.”
Obasi is well-versed in Rangnick’s methods. The Nigerian was playing at Norway’s Lyn Oslo when Rangnick came over to recruit him for Hoffenheim, then in the German Bundesliga 2.
With offers coming from clubs at the top level across Europe at the time, it seemed a strange decision for the promising Nigerian striker, part of a team which had won silver at the FIFA World Youth Championships, to take a step down to a lower division.
The clear and empathetic way the coach communicated his ideas convinced the youngster: “He said if we work together, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be fun and at the end of the day, we all can smile together.
“I remember after talking to him, I could not stop thinking about the conversation and all the things he said and the way he said it. After that, I told my agent he should forget about the other offers because I wanted to go Hoffenheim.”
Within one season of the Nigerian joining the club, Rangnick had guided them to secure promotion to the Bundesliga, with Obasi scoring two goals in the game that sealed the ticket.
He ended up spending five years at the club, and enjoyed his most productive spell under Rangnick, notching 26 goals and 17 assists from 86 appearances.
Obasi says he was able to do that because of the special relationship Rangnick developed with his players, and says Manchester United are lucky to have him.
He added: “Ralf is someone that brings way more than just the football; the organisation, the management, like everything.
“He’s someone that gives you a clear vision of what he wants and he also helps the players individually. It’s not just a ‘my way or no way’ for him.
“He always communicates with the players and he’s at that age where he’s almost like a father. I think a lot of the younger players especially will definitely enjoy playing for Ralf, because he will get the best out of the players.
“I think Manchester United is very lucky to have him to be honest.” READ MORE