How Milan flourished after Ralf Rangnick snub

Ralf Rangnick has reportedly reached an agreement to become interim coach at Manchester United, bit more than a year after his failed move to Milan.

Rangnick was supposed to replace Stefano Pioli at the helm of the Rossoneri at the end of the 2109-20 campaign. Pioli had replaced Marco Giampaolo in October, but was supposed to remain in charge until the end of the season.

Talks between Rangnick and Milan were at an advanced stage. So advanced that Zvonimir Boban even resigned in January, once he learned that CEO Ivan Gazidis had already picked a replacement for Pioli.

However, the scenario changed quickly as Milan collected several victories after the lockdown, cementing their identity under the former Fiorentina and Bologna coach.

The Italian tactician has explained many times how the lockdown helped the Rossoneri players to know each other through remote meetings, so when the season resumed after the lockdown, they looked almost as a new team.

They had collected 36 points in 26 games before the lockdown, but they managed 30 in the last 12 matches of the campaign, so Milan confirmed Pioli for the following season despite having already reached an agreement with Rangnick.

In August 2020, Rangnick confirmed that the first contacts with Milan began in October 2019, but claimed Pioli deserved to remain in charge of the Serie A giants.

“Milan were the best team after Coronavirus,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“A change would not be wise nor respectful. Pioli deserved the confirmation, even for the person he is.

“I appreciated him in interviews, always focused on goals. Whether it is the right choice in the medium and long term is another matter.”

He also revealed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would not be part of his plans, should he got the Molan job.

“It’s not my style to insist on 38-year-old players, not because they are not good enough, and Ibra certainly is, but because I prefer to create value, develop talent,” he admitted.

“For me it makes little sense to bet on Ibra or Kjaer, but it is my idea, neither right nor wrong.”

Arguably, both Ibrahimovic and Kjaer played a big role in Milan’s development over the last year and, curiously, Rangnick will take over at Old Trafford while Pioli is about to sign a contract extension with Milan.