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Manchester United: Cristiano Ronaldo seems in trouble under pressure from fanatic Ralf Rangnick

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A video is currently circulating on social media revealing all about Ralf Rangnick, the godfather of the press and the man glorified by many managers in the modern game. Manchester United are in for a shock.

Filmed in RB Leipzig’s dressing room during one of his stints in charge of the club, Rangnick can be seen calmly but firmly instructing his players during halftime. Strangely enough, he then appears to turn off the lights and yells at them to ‘go out’.

Then he hands his squad a final dressing to motivate them and sends them on their way. In a nutshell, this is Rangnick. Powerful, honest and hugely driven, he seems like the perfect man to revive United’s drifting season.

Veteran Ralf Rangnick will take charge of Manchester United until the end of the season

But Cristiano Ronaldo may struggle with Rangnick's press-focused, energetic playing style

But Cristiano Ronaldo may struggle with Rangnick’s press-focused, energetic playing style

And quite simply, it’s his way or the highway. He has been warmly billed as the genius behind genpressing, the heavy metal style of playing that took Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool out of mediocrity and back into the great era.

He has a clear blueprint for how his sides should perform and requires energy from all his players to make it work. Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann may be staring at him wide-eyed, but several players at United will fear what lies ahead.

Extraordinarily, the looming appointment seems to have consequences for Cristiano Ronaldo. The superstar has single-handedly dragged his teammates to the knockout stages of the Champions League, but he has been criticized for his lack of will to push through.

Known as the 'godfather of the gegenpress', Rangnick will make United an urgent unit

Known as the ‘godfather of the gegenpress’, Rangnick will make United an urgent unit

Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he came off lightly. It’s a myth that he doesn’t push at all, but United’s previous boss was undoubtedly more lenient and willing to instruct his other nine players on the field to level up to cover up Ronaldo’s weakness.

However, there will be no forgiveness with Rangnick. That’s according to the veteran tactician’s comments in 2016. According to him, Ronaldo was too old to qualify for a surprise move to Leipzig – and that was five years ago.

When asked by AFP whether he would like Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, Rangnick said: “It would be absurd to think it could work with them here.

“They’re both too old and too expensive.”

Ronaldo has been criticized this season for his reluctance to follow or push back defenders

Ronaldo has been criticized this season for his reluctance to follow or push back defenders

In his opinion, Ronaldo and his aging body would not have been able to follow his instructions. Rangnick builds his sides around the same fundamentals – fast playing patterns and good pressing – preferring to use young players for them.

That’s why players like Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho are getting a priceless lesson – and a lot of hard work – but it’s Ronaldo who seems to pop out like a sore thumb. Compromise is necessary.

Rangnick is a fan of looking closely at statistics and lighting the candle on both sides, and he will certainly be alarmed by Ronaldo’s numbers.

According to fbref.com, the attacker has made just 39 ‘pressure’ in the Premier League this season. In comparison, Bruno Fernandes has made 205, Fred has 224 and even Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane have more than Ronaldo.

According to fbref.com, Ronaldo has made just 39 'busy' in the Premier League this year

According to fbref.com, Ronaldo has made just 39 ‘busy’ in the Premier League this year

In comparison, playmaker Bruno Fernandes (right) made 205 and will be a Rangnick stack

In comparison, playmaker Bruno Fernandes (right) made 205 and will be a Rangnick stack

Considering how and when Ronaldo presses, United have managed to win the ball back just seven times within five seconds of knocking out an opponent – resulting in a meager 17.9 per cent.

17 of these pressures have come into the final third, with 20 in midfield and two in and around United’s penalty area. Damn it, Mason Greenwood – who is accused of being short of work this term – has been shut down 90 times.

Of course Ronaldo is now 36 years old and his lack of effort to regain possession is understandable. There’s also the added complication that he’s unlikely to change the playstyle of his life to help Rangnick.

If there’s one tactic that doesn’t suit Ronaldo, it’s gegenpressing. Rangnick has described the concept as “easy,” but for those players who aren’t keen on breaking a lung to help their teammates, it’s anything but.

Rangnick is notoriously demanding and his lung-bursting sides of the past were based on childhood

Rangnick is notoriously demanding and his lung-bursting sides of the past were based on childhood

Rangnick outlined exactly how he expects his matches will play out, Rangnick previously told ESPN: “[Gegenpressing is] a very proactive style of football, similar to the way Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool have played under Klopp.

‘We like to press high, with very intense counter-pressure. When we have the ball, we don’t like square or back passes. The goalkeeper should also not be the one with the most contact with the ball.

“In almost every competition and country, the goalkeeper is technically the most limited footballer on the pitch, so we have to make sure he has the least contact with the feet.

“It’s a fast-paced, proactive, offensive, counter-attack, counter-pressure, exciting and entertaining” [style of] American football.’

Jurgen Klopp (right) is just one of countless managers influenced by Rangnick's teachings

Jurgen Klopp (right) is just one of countless managers influenced by Rangnick’s teachings

All these buzzwords can confuse Ronaldo. It’s a clash between the great minds, Rangnick against the talisman of his new club. On the one hand, there’s one of the greatest players ever in a sport, and on the other, there’s a ruthless professor.

It will take some time, but United supporters can expect their players to eventually run over every blade of grass in a way not seen at Old Trafford in years. Under Solskjaer they have become fitter and ready for their new challenge.

A staple under Rangnick is that his attackers constantly bully defenders, leaving them with almost no time to build up attacks from the deep. But as seen several times under Solskjaer, just one outfielder who fails to push through can make the entire press useless.

So a big decision has to be made. The fact that Rangnick has signed a six-month contract gives him freedom and plenty of time to express his authority at the club. It is likely that he will be relentless with the ultimate goal of improving United.

United met Schalke side of Rangnick in 2011 and will now slowly adopt his high-octane tactics

United met Schalke side of Rangnick in 2011 and will now slowly adopt his high-octane tactics

Speaking to BBC Sport, journalist Raphael Honigstein said he believes the dilemma in the form of Ronaldo is “fascinating”.

“He won’t have as much authority as someone who gets a three-year contract, but at the same time you can do whatever you want, because you’re going to leave,” Honigstein explained. “He can be more ruthless in a way.

“It becomes difficult when Ronaldo is a no to him, for example. That may not be so easy to work out – how does Ronaldo fit into Rangnick’s kind of football?

“Maybe he can. Maybe the idea can change, maybe Ronaldo can change? It’s going to be one of the most fascinating parts of this story.

One of the biggest problems Rangnick faces is how he fits Ronaldo into his sacred blueprint

One of the biggest problems Rangnick faces is how he fits Ronaldo into his sacred blueprint

‘But Ralf has learned to deal with people, even if they are not on the same wavelength. The journey, the tension of six months at United, with the top four, Champions League and FA Cup still to play for, takes on a dimension of its own.’

Forcing and pressing covers in an aggressive yet coordinated style doesn’t scream Ronaldo’s name, does it? United are 17th this season due to attempted pressure in the final third, largely due to their number 7’s desire to stay with the last man.

Intriguingly, talks between Rangnick and AC Milan broke down last January, with the club’s hiring of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 38, being one of the reasons. Ronaldo is only two years younger but will force his new boss to reconsider.

However, there is a happy middle ground. Provided Ronaldo commutes enough on the road to shut down canals, the rest of his teammates can do the dirty work and fix it up. That would allow their striker to focus on what he is good at: scoring.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (right) may have been smooth with Ronaldo, but Rangnick won't be

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (right) may have been smooth with Ronaldo, but Rangnick won’t be

Despite claims to the contrary, Ronaldo is energetic in his own way. His pace in the last year has been scorching and, as evidenced by the closing stages of United’s hard-fought win against Atalanta, he is able to come back and work hard when needed.

Provided Rangnick can convince him to keep doing this, their partnership seems destined to be fruitful. He may be 293rd for the most pressure put on a top-class opposition player, but he is still United’s most potent threat.

And despite his decades of experience and unwavering character, Rangnick would do well to remember this. Both are arguably the best in their chosen profession and by working together they could help save United’s season.

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