Ahead of Ralf Rangnick’s first game in charge of Manchester United, Mirror Football takes a closer look at how his predecessors have fared in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era
Following in the legendary footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson was never going to be easy, but the Manchester United managerial post has become something of a poisoned chalice in the years since his retirement.
The great Scot won a staggering 38 trophies over his 26-year reign in Manchester as he turned the club into a football dynasty on his way to becoming the most decorated manager in football’s illustrious history.
At the time, it was clear to all that United were being headed by someone special, but in the years since his stunning success, that notion has only been further reaffirmed as a number of high-profile names have tried and failed to emulate his astonishing achievements.
After his shock retirement in 2013, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have all sat in football’s most heated of hot-seats, trying their hands at returning United to their glory days, but to little avail.
Now, that mantle has been passed to Ralf Rangnick.
As the German football guru takes to the Old Trafford touchline for the very first time when the Red Devils face Crystal Palace, Mirror Football looks back at how the men before him fared in their very first United outings.
Ferguson’s friend who had been earmarked by the great man himself as his own successor began his reign in style as he led United to Community Shield glory.
The opportunity to claim silverware in his very first official outing in charge of the Red Devils was largely thanks to Ferguson’s farewell gift of a final Premier League title earning United the right to battle FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic for the honour.
A Robin van Persie double was enough to see off the spirited Championship side, fresh from relegation, and perhaps provided Moyes with a false sense of security.
A week later, the Scot steered United to a comfortable 4-1 opening day win over Swansea in his first Premier League game in charge as a brace apiece from that man Van Persie and Danny Welbeck made it a week to remember for Moyes.
However, it quickly became 10 months to forget. United swiftly suffered their worst ever start to a Premier League season and with the Red Devils down in seventh come April, a 2-0 loss to Moyes’ former side Everton proved the final nail in his coffin.
Louis van Gaal
After Ryan Giggs saw out the remainder of United’s season, Dutchman Louis van Gaal was next up to turn the club’s fortunes around, fresh from his third-placed finish with Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup.
Much like Moyes, the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach’s first Premier League outing came again Swansea, but unlike his predecessor, it didn’t go to plan.
Despite a rapturous pre-game reception, it proved to be a debut to forget as strikes from Ki Sung-yueng and Gylfi Sigurdsson, either side of Wayne Rooney’s acrobatic effort, saw the misery under Moyes continue under the new man in charge.
A humiliating 4-0 defeat to League One outfit MK Dons in the League Cup followed shortly after as the size of the task at hand dawned on the gormless Van Gaal.
Although he did manage to guide United to FA Cup glory in 2016, the club had seen enough, announcing his sacking two days after he won his only trophy at the helm.
In parallels to the start of Moyes, Mourinho tasted Community Shield success in his very first match in charge with FA Cup hero Jesse Lingard and new stellar summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic sealing a 2-1 win over recently-crowned shock Premier League champions Leicester.
Mourinho followed it up with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth in his first Premier League game at the helm a week later as Juan Mata, Rooney and Ibrahimovic found themselves on the scoresheet.
The Portuguese boss went on to deliver League Cup and Europa League success that season, but could only guide United to sixth in the Premier League.
The following campaign of 2017-18, Mourinho masterminded the Red Devils to a second place finish in the Premier League, their highest points total and placing since Ferguson’s 2013 retirement, but dismal displays at the start of the new season saw ‘The Special One’ dismissed in December.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
With Mourinho gone, United appointed former player and club cult hero Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
The Norwegian’s first game saw United smash Solskjaer’s former team Cardiff City 5-1 as Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and a double from Lingard put the Welsh side to the sword.
It was the first time since Ferguson’s final game, a thrilling 5-5 draw with West Brom, that United had hit five or more goals, and signalled the start of an extraordinary run.
Solskjaer won 14 of his first 19 matches at the helm and was rewarded with his dream job on a permanent basis.
Two and a half years later, damaging defeats to Liverpool, Manchester City and Watford at the start of the current campaign, coupled with a failure to deliver silverware after a number of semi-final stutters and a Europa League final defeat, saw Solskjaer’s stint come to an end.
Over to you, Ralf Rangnick.