Ralph Rangnick took his time, but then gave up his role as a conservative observer. The 63-year-old spent most of his first training sessions as Austrian coach on Monday with his arms crossed, with no apparent impact on the drills. Then he sent his team to the waiting fans.
Finally, when the noise died down a bit, he also grabbed a pen himself and was willingly available for autographs and photos, which several schoolchildren taking extra leave agreed to—even if not all of them were named to the new coach, it turns out when asked.
On the first day, under Ralph Rangnick, there was something of a folk-festival atmosphere in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, a small spa town in Burgenland, where the town features elderly people in bathrobes on their way to thermal treatments. But the Austrian national team is preparing these days for a series of four international matches in the Nations League, with well-known teams such as France, Denmark and Croatia. But of course it is about more than that: at best, a new era in Austrian football has begun on the small training ground in Bad Tatzmannsdorf.
Rangnick’s commitment was accompanied by the columnist’s expected critical votes, but above all there was a surprising amount of enthusiasm for a German coach. Neither the experts nor the fans take it for granted that someone like him, who until recently coached Cristiano Ronaldo, is now taking on Austria. In turn, expectations were high, sporting director Peter Schoettle, for example, opened Sunday’s press conference with the words that Rangnick should be good not only for the national team, but for “all Austrian football”.
In the face of such high demands, Rangnick has proven himself to be a master of his trade, and not just when it comes to football coaching. In any case, it only took a few words before she could see a clear break between the way his predecessor Franco Voda spoke to the reporters present – and how Rangnick did it.
He confidently explained his claims and his philosophy, which is characterized mainly by two elements: first, the team must be stronger than the sum of the individual players. On the other hand, the football played by the Austrian national team should be entertaining for the viewers. And the allegations: “There are countries ahead of us in the rankings where I don’t know if it should be the case,” said Rangnick – also naming the candidates involved such as Switzerland, Iran, Morocco and Nigeria.
In his view, there is a possibility of such a development, as was the case in Salzburg at the time: Rangnick took over the Red Bull Cosmos in 2012, when Austria was 19th in the UEFA coefficient rating, he said: Now the league is in position Eighth and has a fixed place at the start in the Champions League.
Rangnick himself fueled expectations
“I don’t understand why a similar development could not happen with the national team,” said Rangnick, who was not ashamed to raise a mirror to the self-indulgent country: “It has been a long time since Austria. He drew attention to himself with heroic deeds. “It is likely that one of the sentences Which should be measured in the coming months and years.
Meanwhile, the debate over the dual role is no longer a factor: after the last league game against Crystal Palace, he “mutually agreed” terminated his contract with Manchester United, Rangnick said, removing Austria’s fears that he would not be one hundred percent. Committed to his role as team leader.
Manchester are in the past, but there are also some parallels with the task in Austria: the talented squad may lack strikers willing to start in the front row to master Rangnick. In any case, neither Marko Arnautovic nor Sasa Kalajdic were the prototypes of the powerful striker, nor Cristiano Ronaldo at United.
One of Rangnick’s missions: to find the best place for David Alaba
Rangnick’s initial task should also be to find the perfect role for David Alaba: the national team did not have a consistent and organized concept in which Alaba – with three champions – could play the league. Nicknames – lie at the heart of things.
Rangnick once wanted to bring Alaba on loan to Hoffenheim, but the first attempt ultimately failed because he wanted to play in the middle when he was 18, but Rangnick needed the left-back position. The situation is similar at the moment, the left-back position in Austria is still vacant. However, it is entirely conceivable that Alaba will come alone this time around in a series of three.
On Wednesday he is expected to be in Bad Tatzmannsdorf in the early afternoon after the festivities in Madrid, then the last training sessions before the game against Croatia are scheduled for Friday night (8.45 pm). Then Alaba should notice as quickly as his teammates that the stoic observer and his coaching staff have different requirements than last time. The first training was “intense” and “extremely stressful,” said somewhat surprised Kalajic, who expected a comfortable session in front of the audience. Relaxation, according to the first impression of the spa, is not a priority for Ralf Rangnick in Austria.