When Austrian football fans meet Ralf Rangnick while walking along the River Donau's embankments in Vienna this summer, they might still rub their eyes in disbelief. By then most of them might have heard about the news that took Austrian football by surprise. The representatives of the Austrian association seemed flooded in pride when announcing on Friday evening the signing of the 63-year-old coach, who so far took care of the sporting destinies of Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United. Rangnick's perfect reputation in the Alpine country is increasing the excitement after the German had triggered the upswing of RB Salzburg in 2012. The former Schalke and Leipzig coach invented the famous RB school that turned into a highly-effective breeding ground for talent. Rangnick took the TSG Hoffenheim to the first tier and left significant footprints in German football.
Several coaches such as Thomas Tuchel went through his hands, Xinhua reports. The Norwegian goal-machine Erling Haaland was one of the playing fruits harvested by the Austrian club aside from many others that meanwhile made their way to top European sides. Federation officials must have felt like shy applicants before they developed enough courage to ask Salzburg sporting director Christoph Freund for the coach's number. The prospect to coach a national team at Euro 2024 found Rangnick's approval. His two-year contract until 2024 will be extended to 2026 when the national team is qualifying for the continental tournament hosted by Germany. To convince Rangnick, the Austrian association accepted the coach's demand to fulfil his contract as United advisor over the next two years. Together with United's next season's coach, Erik ten Hag, the current Ajax manager, the German is going to restructure the squad of the struggling Premier League side. Six days per month are said to be reserved for the Red Devils.
The Nations League encounter in Croatia on June 3 is the new arrival's starting point followed by the first game on home soil against Denmark three days later and the duel against France. Austrian media called the deal a sensation after the country's goals to qualify for the 2022 World Cup failed under predecessor Franco Foda. Rangnick spoke about an honour to take over as the national coach. "I am full of appreciation to coach a young, hungry, and gifted team on its way to the 2024 European Championship," the German said. Over several days, the emerging deal was kept a secret and the first hints discovered by Austrian media had been denied by the association. As the breaking news was confirmed, the surprise among Austrian and German football fans couldn't have been bigger. Many fans still expressed their suspicion about possibly witnessing fake news. The uncertainty might come to an end this summer when Rangnick is seen on a riverside walk near the associations' headquarters thinking about how to lead the country to new heights.