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'These moments made me' - Mertesacker on what Man Utd can expect from 'amazing role model' Rangnick

12:13 EAT 05/12/2021
Ralf-Rangnick
The German has hailed his compatriot for having a huge impact on his early career development

Per Mertesacker has offered an insight into what Manchester United can expect from Ralf Rangnick, with the ex-Arsenal and Germany defender describing the head coach as an "amazing role model".

Rangnick is preparing for his first game in charge of United's first team against Crystal Palace on Sunday, having been drafted in to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on an interim basis earlier this month.

The German has arrived in England with a reputation as a master tactician and motivator, and Mertesacker is the latest high profile figure to give him a glowing endorsement.

What has been said?

The former Arsenal defender has recalled the moment Rangnick handed him his professional debut when they were at Hannover in 2003.

Mertesacker revealed his compatriot always stressed the importance of having a first-rate education to go along with his skills as a player when speaking at the TGG’s Youth Development Webinar last week.

“I’ve got a few stories on Ralf, because he gave me my debut as a Bundesliga player, as a right-back," he said.

"I struggled big-time and was subbed after 45 minutes. That was Ralf sometimes. He was the same guy who went with me to my school and said: ‘Per’s a really good footballer, but he’ll finish his A-Levels. We need to find a balance between football and school.' That was when I was 19.

“I will never forget that he went with me to my school, that he gave me a real insight into what it needs to be a top pro. When I look back, these moments made me, instead of me sloping away.

“He really cared for a young guy who made a couple of minor mistakes but were crucial in the way forward. I finished my A-Levels, put in my all, and then started my career.

“My second appearance was half a year later, so I struggled a lot. 'When is my next chance going to come?' He gave me my next chance when it was his last game for Hannover.

“He put me in because he knew this is probably going to be my last game, you’re a young player, and this really helped me when the next appointment came in. You kind of trust the last team that was playing. So he gave me the platform. Ralf was crucial for me, he was an amazing role model.

“Once he was gone, he kind of left me an open field with the knowledge he gave to me. Since then we have always kept in contact."

Rangnick at Man Utd

Rangnick went on to manage Schalke, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig after his stint at Hannover, with his high pressing tactics copied by the next generation of German managers including Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel.

The 63-year-old is facing arguably the toughest test of his career at Man Utd, as he inherits a star-studded squad that has failed to live up to expectations at the start of the 2021-22 season.

The Red Devils are seventh in the Premier League after 14 games, 12 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Rangnick will be expected to guide United back into the top four while overseeing strong runs in the Champions League and FA Cup before he moves into a consultancy role at the end of the season.

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