Ralf Rangnick - The Man Behind German Newcomers RB Leipzig

Prague.TV interview with RB Leipzig's sporting director Ralf Rangnick

In preparation for this weekend’s upcoming trip to Leipzig, Prague.TV spoke to sporting director Ralf Rangnick about RB Leipzig.

The short journey to Leipzig kicks off a new series for Prague.TV in which readers will get an insight into some of the great locations to visit in close distance to Prague. The series is starting off in Saxony’s largest city, Leipzig, providing an insight into the historic city and its football team.

In regards to Ralf Rangnick, the man was just last year touted as a possible replacement for Roy Hodgson as the England national football team following Euro 2016. A former defensive midfielder, he has won trophies and promotions during his career as a manager, experiencing most of his success at Hoffenheim. His current role as sporting director at RB Leipzig has seen him be involved with Red Bull since 2012, having previously been sporting director at Red Bull Salzburg. Through his position as sporting director he was involved in the signing of Scotland’s most expensive ever player, teenage sensation Oliver Burke for £13 million. It encompasses Rangnick’s desire to promote youth in football and the philosophy is paying dividends thus far.

RB Leipzig have enjoyed a breakthrough season this year in what is their maiden campaign in the top flight. They currently occupy second spot in the table and have surpassed all expectations this season. Ralf Rangnick knows better than anyone about this rapid rise and took the time to speak to Prague.TV about the great journey:

What do you put this season’s remarkable success down to?

The team got used to the higher level of football in the Bundesliga very quickly. Honestly, we knew about the great potential of the team but that we would play this kind of first half of the season came very surprisingly to us all. The most important point why we were so successful so far is the team mentality. We have the youngest team of the Bundesliga and each player supports its team mate. The team spirit brought us to the Bundesliga and it is the same mentality that makes us so difficult to play for our opponents. Moreover, each player and staff member stay hungry and everybody wants to get better every day.

How has the club adapted to four promotions in seven seasons?

Because of the speed of success with our professional team the club in general had to adapt quickly as well. But we are a very young club that deals with an everyday process of learning on and off the field – that includes all employees in the club. These are exciting times for everybody here.

The club has received a lot of criticism from fellow Bundesliga clubs and supporters. What is the club’s view on this criticism?

We are far from being hated among German football fans. Of course, there are some so called “ultra groups” that don’t appreciate what we do but that is only a very small group of people. In fact, recent polls show that the football fans in Germany more and more acknowledge what we are doing in the fan ranking RB Leipzig is on the 7th place among all 18 Bundesliga teams. Moreover, in the North Eastern region of Germany RB Leipzig is the third most popular team behind Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Similarly, what about the claims that the club has "no history"

Well, it is a fact that we were founded in 2009. But every club had to start at some point. And I think we have achieved a lot since 2009. We want to create our own history and we are on a good path so far.

Leicester City performed a miracle in the PL last season, how has the club used their success as motivation, if at all?

It is a great story of success that Leicester wrote by winning the Premier League. But we are RB Leipzig and we focus completely on ourselves. We don’t compare us to Leicester City. For us the development of the team is the priority.

How important have the fans been?

Tremendously! In the region of Leipzig itself the team is greatly supported. So far all but two home games have been sold out – so there is an average of more than 40,000 people attending the games at Red Bull Arena. And it is great to see that our fans create a different kind of fan culture without violence. In fact, many of our fans are families with women and children. They don’t sing negative chants against the opponent teams or fans but only support our team.

Have your goals for the season changed as the campaign has gone on?

Not at all. Our goal is to play a worry-free season and so far we make a really good job. Of course, we want to be as good as possible and see how far the development of the team can go this season. But as we see right now there are also some setbacks. We will see how stable we are already as a team until the end of the season.

Bayern Munich, and to some degree Borussia Dortmund, have dominated German football for some years, do you believe RB Leipzig have the ability to take over the mantle?

We don’t think about that at all. As said before, for us the development of the team is the priority. When the time comes over the next seasons we will see if we can challenge the power houses of the Bundesliga like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. We are ambitious but also humble. We know where we come from and that there is still a long way to go to be able the challenge the big teams permanently.

Next up for RB Leipzig is a home match against Darmstadt 98 on Saturday with the Bundesliga new boys looking to cement their position in second spot against the divisions bottom club.

Die Roten Bullen: RasenBallsport Leipzig www.dierotenbullen.com

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