Following Birmingham’s compensation demands for Chris Hughton, West Bromwich Albion are still in the hunt for a new manager to replace Roy Hodgson who left his post at the Hawthorns to take charge of England.
The Baggies cannot be accused of rushing into an appointment. They were apparently aware that Hodgson would take up his new role as early as March and three months later they are still yet to confirm his successor.
Hughton was the bookies’ favourite for a long time but when Birmingham requested a fee in the region of £2.5m, the economical Jeremy Peace baulked and cast his net elsewhere. That net has reportedly landed in leftfield territory somewhere in Germany at the feet of former Schalke boss Ralf Rangnick.
The man who took the Gelsenkirchen outfit to a Champions League semi-final back in 2011 is a free agent after resigning from his role at the Veltins Arena back in September 2011, citing exhaustion as the reason behind his decision.
‘The Football Professor’ got his big break at Vfb Stuttgart in 1999, but lasted just two seasons before being sacked. By the time the next campaign had started he had taken up the offer of at job at Hannover 96 who he subsequently got promoted to the Bundesliga. A consolidating first season at the top level was followed by relegation trouble and he was again fired from his post. A first spell at Schalke yielded a runners-up position in both league and the DFB Cup but the following season saw them struggle in both the Champions League and Bundesliga and once again, he was dismissed.
He then dropped down two divisions to take the helm at small town village club Hoffenheim. Funded by local businessman Dietmar Hopp, Rangnick masterminded successive promotions to make the club the team they are today. His signings at TSG1899 included the likes of Demba Ba, Chinedu Obasi, Sajid Salihovic & Luis Gustavo to name but a few. All bar the Bosnian have left the club for bigger clubs and that is testimony to Rangnick’s eye for a player.
In fact, the sale of Gustavo to Bayern was against his will and was the catalyst behind his resignation from Hoffenheim. Two months later he returned to Schalke who were quickly facing Internazionale in a Champions League quarter-final. Rangnick quickly restored the sides’ belief and they ran out 7-3 aggregate winners, before losing 6-1 to Manchester United over two legs in the semi-final. It was a manic few months for Rangnick and he had been in charge for only nine months when he left Schalke for a second time.
An attacking manager, Rangnick is a fan of players with great technical ability and often allows the talented individuals of his sides to roam free and create chances.
Baggies fans that have reservations about a foreign manager taking charge need not worry. In the late 1970’s Rangnick studied in England, playing for local Sussex side FC Southwick and making 11 appearances. In an interview The Guardian conducted with former team-mate Gary Brown, his professionalism comes to the fore.
“In Germany they did proper warm-ups prior to kick-off but there was none of that in the UK,” Brown told The Guardian. “Five minutes before kick-off the bell went and you lined up behind the captain and went out. I remember before his first game here he turned up a couple of hours before anyone else.”
Rangnick was unfortunate to suffer two broken ribs and a punctured lung in a game, but credits the experience as “one of the best years of my life”.
He soon left these shores following the completion of his English and Physical Education degree, but it looks as though Jeremy Peace is moving to bring him back once more.