RALF RANGNICK and Ralph Hasenhuttl delivered some good results during their time together at RB Leipzig, starting with the use of salt and pepper.
Former colleagues face off against each other in a Saturday lunchtime game as Rangnick’s Manchester United welcoming Hasenhuttl’s Southampton.
It’s been almost six years since Rangnickthen Leipzig’s director of football, eventually convincing Hasenhuttl to become the club manager over dinner in the picturesque town of Lofer in the Austrian Alps.
Diners described how the two Ralphs passionately discussed battle tactics using salt and pepper shakers as props.
Rangnick had wanted to hire Hasenhuttl the previous year, impressed with the way he had put the underdogs of Ingolstadt on the top flight. He sees a spirit of kindness in the way Austrians play attacking, pressing football and wants to develop young players.
The offer was turned down as Hasenhuttl felt his Ingolstadt duties were not over and then successfully completed the 11th finish for the newly promoted team.
But, with a little help from table spice, Rangnick got his man a campaign back then and together they blew the Bundesliga away the next season.
Their energy helped propel Leipzig, then the hated upstart of German football, every way to a second-place finish behind the champions. Bayern Munich.
Timo Werner is the star of the show, scoring 21 league goals, alongside midfielder Naby Keita, driving future moves to the Premier League for around £100m combined.
Hasenhuttl learned much from Rangnick’s alternative, eye-catching approaches to maximizing performance.
For example, Rangnick asked Leipzig’s players for blood tests upon arrival at the training ground to gauge muscle fatigue and whether they needed rest.
He will also place motivational quotes around the training ground from inspirational figures, which is something Hasenhuttl has continued at Southampton.
The citations are moved up a few times a season at the Saints’ Staplewood campus.
At Leipzig we did a lot of things that other clubs couldn’t do
But current examples include Vincent van Gogh’s remark that “Great things are accomplished by a series of small things put together,” as well as Malcolm X’s assertion that “The future belongs to prepare for it today”.
Reflecting on the unique techniques Rangnick introduced, Hasenhuttl said: “At Leipzig we did a lot of things that other clubs couldn’t.
“We turned every stone and tried everything because that was the only opportunity for us at the time. We were a promoted team and finished second in the end.
“This is one way to go. As a manager, it is very important to learn things and try them out. Does it work or is it too much? Do you need this in the future? If not, leave it out.
“But always be open to new things. This is what I tried here (at Southampton). We are always listening for new things.”
Success brings new challenges and in his second season at Leipzig, Hasenhuttl could not reach the heights of the previous campaign.
The extra games from being in the Champions League took their toll.
While the central defensive partnership of teenagers Ibrahima Konate and Dayot Upamecano, now of Liverpool and Bayern, has a lot of potential but is still raw.
It has been suggested that Hasenhuttl passed up an opportunity to extend his contract during the festive period of that campaign, coinciding with links of a move to Bayern.
Results began to decline in the second half of the season, reports of behind-the-scenes tensions emerged, and CEO Oliver Mintzlaff was reportedly very interested in the change in mining.
Rangnick supported Hasenhuttl but in May 2018, when it was announced that Julian Nagelsmann would be placed in his place, Hasenhuttl decided to leave despite 12 months remaining on his contract.
Looking back now, Hasenhuttl said he felt he needed to continue to break free from the limitations that Leipzig’s style imposed and to portray him as a boss obsessed with frustration.
He explains: “In the end, I had the feeling that I had to go my own way and develop my management style further without overdoing it, I don’t want to be one-sided, but I have a feeling there are more parts. of the game I want to develop.
“We had a home game against Bayern Munich where we won 2-1 and then there were opinions (within the club) about not having enough RB philosophy in that game.
“I couldn’t agree, so it was important for me to step out and go my own way and learn other things as well.
“But I’ve always been happy to be there during this time in my management career because I learned a lot there and it was an important step in my management career.”
What he achieved at Southampton is great, great
Two years on from their tactical negotiations regarding the spice, Hasenhuttl and Rangnick’s working relationship may have ended badly.
However, the two are understood to be exchanging messages from time to time, and Rangnick sent Hasenhuttl a congratulatory message upon his appointment as boss of the Saints.
Of their relationship, Rangnick said: “I’ve known him for six or seven years, he’s grown in those years, that’s obvious.
“He did a great job in Leipzig. What he achieved at Southampton was amazing, it was amazing.”
After all they’ve been through, it’s good to see that there’s no warmth between the two Ralphs.
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/17629069/rangnick-hasenhuttl-leipzig-man-utd-saints/ Rangnick and Hasenhuttl used salt and pepper for tactics at Leipzig