Demba Ba worked with Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick at Hoffenheim and then made visits to him while he was working at Lokomotiv Moscow.
Former Newcastle striker Ba has now given an interview to The i where he explained why Rangnick is going to be successful at Old Trafford.
Ba was also familiar with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United side, scoring in a 2-1 win for Istanbul Basaksehir in last season’s Champions League group stage.
That costly defeat contributed to United’s group stage exit in 2020 but Rangnick will lead United into a last 16 tie with Atletico Madrid in 2022.
Ba was effusive in his praise of Rangnick, saying: “I’m a student of Ralf; with him it’s like I’m in the library. When he opens up, I read. He is scary: he has so much knowledge of the game and so much energy. He never stops. He told me when we started, ‘I am an ‘A’ person, but I surround myself with A+ people’. That’s what makes him so special.
“He’s so confident that he doesn’t hesitate to surround himself with people who are going to improve him. He always told me: ‘Don’t be a ‘B’ person, because they surround themselves with Cs and Ds because they are scared’. One of his big skills is seeing the A+ people and bringing them along with him.
“He has a power of conviction that is tremendous. I saw him speaking with players to tell them what he wanted them to do and it is a method of communication which is so different. It is tailored to the individual and is about improvement.
“There are not many people who can bring that level of detail to their coaching, and you can see the players buy into it. I could see the improvement from day to day and the way the players were changing. He did it with me when I was a player. When you see the whole plan that he sets out to you, you cannot say no. I knew then that this guy was special.”
It is good to get an insight into Rangnick’s methods from someone who has played under him and then enjoyed it so much that he went back to learn from him at the end of his career.
United’s players need to buy into his methods and the performance against Norwich shows that will take time and patience.
But the win over Crystal Palace offered a glimpse of what United can be like if they embrace Rangnick’s tactics and methods.
As for Ba’s comments about Rangnick identifying who is best to take with him, it will be interesting to see who in United’s squad the German wants to keep and who – if anyone – he is happy to offload in January.
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