It’s no secret that Julian Nagelsmann is near, if not at, the top of Tottenham Hotspur’s list to become their next permanent head coach. Nagelsmann has already walked away from discussions with Chelsea about their open position (one they have now offered to Mauricio Pochettino) and there have been reports out of Germany that Nagelsmann is open to the idea of succeeding Antonio Conte permanently this summer.
Now he’s getting encouragement to do so from one of his former colleagues. Ralf Rangnick worked with Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig as the club’s Head of Sport and Development while Julian was manager. Ralf has also more recently served as Manchester United’s head coach and is currently managing the Austrian national team, but in quotes given to Sky Germany (via the Guardian) he’s been encouraging Nagelsmann to consider joining Tottenham, calling Spurs “an exciting club in many ways”... but with one important condition.
“They probably have one of the most modern, beautiful stadiums in the world, they have one of the best training centres and Daniel Levy, who has been leading the club for many, many years.
“If Tottenham really want him, then I think it would be important if a sporting director was still there to support him. It can be a very, very exciting story. There is room for improvement, a lot of room for improvement and yet this is not a club where the house expects you to be in the top one or two straight away.”
So, according to Ralf, Nagelsmann could do very good things at a club like Spurs, especially if they also hire a Director of Football who knows him and has a record of working well with him in the past. Someone like... Ralf Rangnick, perhaps? Hmm, that’s very interesting, Ralf!
Now, I’m sure if you asked Ralf directly if he was angling for the position he’d deny it. After all, he does already have a job as Austria manager and I can’t think of another person who has operated as both a manager of a high-level European national team and a director of football at a different club simultaneously. But when you’re an accomplished DoF yourself that seems to meet the exact criteria that you say a hypothetical Tottenham manager needs to succeed, well it’s not too difficult to connect the dots. This seems to be a barely disguised “come and get me... and also Julian” plea.
To be clear, Ralf is a very good DoF, and he would probably do a very good job at Spurs on merit alone. That said, there are some skeletons in his closet. None are bigger than comments some viewed as racially insensitive he made publicly about Naby Keita in 2017 when both were at Leipzig — he said Keita, wanted by Liverpool at the time, had his head turned by “a clan and sometimes a whole village in Guinea.” Ralf also seemed to rub some high ranking people at Manchester United the wrong way during his interim tenure there last year. These, and other incidents over the past few years, seem to suggest Ralf doesn’t play particularly well with others.
However, he’s absolutely right in his comments about Nagelsmann. Should he take the head coach job, it would behoove Spurs to identify and hire a Director of Football that Nagelsmann feels comfortable and can work well with. Getting a top level manager who’s willing to take on a rebuilding project and a proven executive who can identify and acquire footballing talent (and sell off some deadwood) would be massive for Spurs going forward.
But I have my doubts about Ralf, no matter how well he positions himself to be that guy.