The Soccerbot: The revolutionary machine Rangnick could bring to Manchester United

Ralf Rangnick is preparing to take charge at Manchester United after being confirmed as the club’s interim boss. He will also have a two year consultancy role after this season.

Rangnick’s football style has been described as ‘gegenpressing’ – a high intensity and proactive pressing style, ESPN report.

This requires high physical effort, and mental effort too. To assist with sharpening the minds, Rangnick utilised technology to help improve his players at RB Leipzig.

Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

Speaking to the Bundesliga website, Rangnick spoke about a machine named ‘the Soccerbot’.


Rangnick explained: “If you want to increase the speed of your game, you have to develop quicker minds rather than quicker feet. At RB, we work on increasing the memory space and the processing pace.

“We put players into the Soccerbot, for example – a machine that simulates previous games and allows players to relive key moments of matches.

“It’s PlayStation football, but with your feet. The players enjoy it so much we have a hard time getting some of them to stop.”

What is the Soccerbot?

Just last month, Norwich City opened their new Soccerbot 360 machine, which The Athletic reported cost £750,000. It is one of just eight in the world, with RB Leipzig constructing the first.

This won’t be quick for United to develop, and yet, with Rangnick at the club for two-and-a-half years, and Carrington set to be redeveloped, this is the type of hi-tech improvement which can help bring United into the modern age.

ITV report the Soccerbot ‘allows players to improve their technique and cognitive skills’, while the simulator has the benefit of ‘enabling players to work on their decision-making as well as coaches to talk through tactics.’

The simulator uses GPS technology from previous games to recreate scenarios for players to re-enact, and attempt to do so differently.

Rangnick is going to have influence across the whole club to enact his vision for Manchester United.

He told The Guardian in 2019: “If any club wanted to speak to me, the question would have to be: ‘Can I be somebody who can influence areas of development across the whole club?’ Otherwise you are only getting half of what I am capable of.”

So, with the Soccerbot’s capabilities in mind to recreate scenarios in games for players to replay in virtual reality

Three fun moments to replay

If Ralf Rangnick wants his Manchester United players to recreate key moments in virtual reality, we have taken a look at a few which may test the players…

Jadon Sancho’s counter attack goal v Chelsea: How often do players get a snap chance to spring a counter attack and run 40 metres with the ball unchallenged before taking a shot against a top goalkeeper? This one on one scenario could test players, and Sancho could find out what may have happened if he chose to pass the ball to Marcus Rashford.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s volley against Tottenham: Cristiano Ronaldo’s volley away at Tottenham was a teachable moment. It was an exquisitely executed goal struck first time from a tight angle.

How many other players in United’s squad could score in such clinical style? This would be an ideal way to put that to the test, and ask United’s players to recreate Ronaldo’s volley.

Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Mason Greenwood’s screamer against Leicester: Scoring goals from outside the box is always a fun challenge for footballers. Mason Greenwood’s long range strike in the defeat to Leicester was a moment worth celebrating, as he put United 1-0 up, before the defensive collapse. United don’t score enough goals like these, and the players could do with training work to become more effective in these scenarios and take shots on.

Three nightmare moments to relive

Jesse Lingard’s backpass: How many times did Jesse Lingard go over his backpass against Young Boys in his head in the days after he did it? The goal-costing error can’t be erased, but he could have got the chance to replay the scenario for real in the Soccerbot, and seen what happened if he made any other choice, other than to play the errant pass he did.

Eric Bailly’s own goal v City: Manchester United’s game plan against Manchester City went out the window in the early November match with Eric Bailly’s own goal. Bailly took a wild swing at the clearance and it all went wrong. The Soccerbot would give him a chance to replay the scenario, and do it differently.

Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Fred’s failed chip against Chelsea: Fred found himself in an unfamiliar scenario late against Chelsea when Edouard Mendy’s poor clearance fell to him in space. Instead of playing the ball to the other side of the penalty are to Ronaldo, Fred attempted to chip Mendy, and the goalkeeper caught his shot comfortably.

Practice for these unexpected scenarios can make United’s players better prepared, and having the opportunity to recreate these, virtually or otherwise, can train the players to be ready for when they arise.

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