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Rumor: England wants Ralf Rangnick

Is England ready for RalfBall?

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England's Men's National Team needs a new head coach, after an acute case of embarrassment forced Sam Allardyce to resign the position.

Allardyce's abrupt departure has seen Gareth Southgate hastily appointed as interim manager for England's October games. Southgate is well-regarded by the sort of people who pick the head coach of England, but he has also already turned down the job once - so there is a vacuum the British press is eager to fill.

Sky Sports has thrown a surprising name into the mix: Ralf Rangnick.

Rangnick is not particularly well known in England, which is why some articles reporting the latest rumor about him describe him as "former Schalke boss", which is true but also dated. Rangnick hasn't worked for Schalke since 2011.

But he knows England, speaks fluent English, and occasionally pops up as a candidate for a coaching job in the Premier League. It is one such opportunity that is behind the rumor: in 2012, Dan Ashworth - now Technical Director of England's FA - sought to bring Rangnick to West Bromwich Albion.

The proposed move didn't pan out, and Rangnick started his work at Red Bulls Salzburg and Leipzig in 2012. That work has been conspicuously successful. Since he started at Red Bull, Salzburg has won a hat-trick of Austrian league and Cup doubles, and Leipzig has won promotion to Germany's top flight. Indeed, Rangnick briefly returned to active coaching for Leipzig's 2015-16 season: the year it won its place in the Bundesliga.

He has since returned to a sporting director's role, and no longer officially oversees both Salzburg and Leipzig. He is, in principle, completely focused on the German Red Bull club and its effort to keep its hard-won place in the top division.

But he has also transformed Red Bull Global Soccer in the four years of his tenure. Starting with Salzburg and Leipzig, clubs he yoked together with a "red thread", and continuing with the New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Brasil, Rangnick's influence can be seen in the common philosophy that characterizes all four teams.

Very broadly speaking, the philosophy comprises a gegenpressing playing style, an emphasis on younger players, a distaste for "soloists" (stars who unbalance the team-first - and coach first - mentality Rangnick prefers), and a fully-integrated commitment to the style of play that runs across all four RB clubs, at all levels at which they play.

When Red Bull set about acquiring and re-branding soccer teams around the world, it was building a global club of sorts. But there wasn't much to connect Salzburg, Leipzig, New York, and Brasil (and Ghana - since departed from the family) beyond shared branding. Since 2015 (when RBNY fell in line with the template), Red Bull Global Soccer has increasingly resembled a coherent global club. It is unified by the unmistakable influence of Rangnick's soccer philosophy on all four teams. We call that philosophy RalfBall.

Will Rangnick bring RalfBall to England's set-up? It has been widely reported that he was interviewed for the manager's position after Roy Hodgson's departure. As it happens, it was Roy Hodgson's appointment to the England job that created the vacancy at West Brom that saw Ashworth try to lure Rangnick to the Premiership in 2012.

Rangnick himself confirmed he interviewed for the Belgium national team head coaching position, during the process that ultimately saw Roberto Martinez appointed. So he is, apparently, entertaining offers.

But the Belgium opportunity foundered on Rangnick's desire to hang on to his job at Red Bull (says he; the Belgian FA let it be known it had found him to be "tactically inflexible"). And he does have a very comfortable position at the moment: Red Bull has backed Rangnick with significant investments in infrastructure and support staff, and the head of RB Global Soccer - Oliver Mintzlaff - was his agent when joined the beverage-billions-backed venture.

Leipzig-based journalist Guido Schafer reports there has been no recent contact between England's FA and Red Bull's soccer mastermind.

But Sky's report says the FA is "keen to speak with" Rangnick - not that the speaking has started or finished. The two parties spoke before, perhaps they will speak again. And perhaps Papa Red Bull's loss will be the Three Lions' gain.

Rangnick will surely leave RB Soccer at some point, at which time fans of all Red Bull clubs will learn how sustainable RalfBall is without Ralf.

With thanks to @georkt for bringing this to OaM's attention.