Ralf Rangnick was appointed sporting director for the two European sides owned by Red Bull – Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig in 2012. Here he had an opportunity – as at Hoffenheim – to exert maximum influence, backed with the resources to achieve his vision. Alexander Zorniger was the man chosen to take charge at Leipzig by Ralf Rangnick, who sold him the project during an intense four-hour chat. Soon, 7 am phone calls would become the norm.
“Ralf hates wasting time – he wants to make the next steps,” Zorniger tells BBC Sport. “If someone is thinking right now in Manchester United ‘well, it will take three or four years and then you will see the first influence’, no chance. If people are not doing what he expects, then he will replace them. He is the most improving professional I ever met. Every day he is checking everything: ‘Is that still state of the art? Do we need to improve something?’
“He always says football is a picture with 100 puzzle pieces and we should be able to provide all the 100 pieces to the players to become better players. That is what he is doing regarding nutrition, mental preparation, physical needs, physiotherapy, even checking hand-eye coordination, kinetics.”
The recently formed RB Leipzig were still trying to get out of the fourth-tier Regionalliga Nord when Rangnick arrived. Within four years, they were competing in the Bundesliga. “Rangnick is the architect. He is a great man, he did all of this,” says Guido Schafer, who charted RB Leipzig’s rise as chief reporter at the Leipziger Volkszeitung. “When he arrived at Leipzig, everything changed. He made the club younger, faster. It’s his philosophy and since this day everything is under the pressure of this philosophy,” he added.