Ralf Rangnick reveals the importance of psychologists to Manchester United players

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The interim manager of Manchester United, Ralf Rangnick said it is important for United to have a sports psychologist to help “the players think the right things”.

According to the German tactician, a club as big as Manchester United ought to have a psychologist catering to the mental needs of the football stars at the club.

Recently, Ralf Rangnick decided to add a sports psychologist to his coaching staff. He appointed a psychologist, Sascha Lense, who he worked with for three years during his time at RB Leipzig.

Lense’s role at Old Trafford is to act as a neutral man when the players and staff need someone to open up to or someone to listen to them. This is expected to help the players ease the pressure on them and protect their mental health.

Ralf Rangnick reveals the importance of psychologists to Manchester United players
File photo of Ralf Rangnick (left) and new Manchester United psychologist Sascha Lense.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Ralf Rangnick stressed that he foresaw that more clubs would employ the services of a sports psychologist in the nearest future.

While noting that he wasn’t surprised that Manchester United did not have a psychologist before now, Rangnick said almost every club in Germany has a psychologist.

“I know from Germany there are quite a few clubs who do not work with a sports psychologist. But, for me, it is absolutely logical”, the German tactician said.

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“Every club has different experts for goalkeeping, for physical performance, for different areas of the field – defense, midfield, offense. The team of experts at some teams is probably bigger than the number of players in a squad.

“If you then consider the brain, the head, the way players, staff members or coaches think is the most relevant ones, then for me it is only logical to have the best possible expert from that area in your staff.

“This is what it’s all about, to help the players think the right things and not think the wrong things. To develop players, the brain should help the body perform at the highest possible level.

“This is part of the jigsaw, of the puzzle. It’s important any top club, and Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world – have the best possible people, and they should at least have all those little pieces available.

“It shouldn’t be the case that in certain areas we don’t have anyone. I strongly believe that every club in the future should have someone in this department.”

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When Ralf Rangnick took over from sacked coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer barely two months ago, Manchester United were struggling to win games consistently.

But his arrival has changed a couple of things in the team especially the way the team plays with more passion and direction.

His influence on the team has earned Manchester United two Premier League wins and a draw in the UEFA Champions League which did not affect their qualification for the next round of the prestigious European football competition.

However, Manchester United were not able to play their last two Premier League games against Brentford and Brighton due to the invasion of coronavirus.

The fact that the players are expected to perform at the highest level and also expected to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic are added pressure on the players. Hence, the need for a sports psychologist.

“Players at this level are under pressure to deliver and perform at the highest possible level,” Rangnick said. “At times they might need help and might need somebody to speak to.

“That should not always only be the manager or head coach. The players need to know there is a neutral person, an expert, to whom they can address in situations where they might need a helping hand, or even somebody to just listen to them.

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“In Germany, we had the case of Robert Enke, who committed suicide when he was still the German national team goalkeeper. If you look at this aspect of the game, it’s important to have somebody on your staff…

“Sascha (the new psychologist at Manchester United) watches every training session, he’s part of every meeting, he’s part of the staff and he speaks regularly with players.

“Of course, it is not obligatory, we do not force players to speak to Sascha, but they know he’s there. He’s a smart and decent guy, and he’s top in his job, I know that because we worked together at Leipzig for three years. The players will find that out very soon if they haven’t already.”

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