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Managerial Rumours, Player Rumours, and Other Headaches

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The Hoff

I've got a splitting headache that's either down to not having a drink since New Year's or Roy Hodgson's continued employment, so it being January and all we might as well dive right into the further headache of rumours rumours rumours...

* Add another name to the pile alongside Klopp and Villas-Boas and Deschamps, as Ralf Rangnick comes out of nowhere to top the betting sites all looking to make you fabulously wealthy by betting on who the next manager of Liverpool Football Club will be. Betting websites: they do it because they love you and want to make you rich so you can retire tomorrow to the Caymans or Canaries.

But anyhow, this all raises one very important question: who the hell is Ralf Rangnick

, and how did he end up favourite to become Liverpool's next manager? Never fear, Level 3 Football has you covered with an exhaustive write-up.

[Rafael] Hoenigstein [The Guardian's Bundesliga correspondent] described [Hoffenheim's] football as “beautiful and free-flowing,” “Autobahn-Fussball without a speed limit,” and “a joy to behold.”

So how does that happen? Good old hard work and commitment to a footballing ‘way,’ that’s how:

“[Rangnick]... has instilled his players with a world of confidence and a never-say-die attitude, which perfectly complements his attacking philosophy.

"Under Rangnick, Hoffenheim plays a relentless pressing game, with emphasis put on quickly moving the ball upfield with a series of quick and short passes to keep their opponents on the back foot at all times.”

Never say die, relentless pressure, and an adherence to a short passing game? Well, on paper at least those seem like three footballing beliefs that any new Liverpool manager would need to have, so that's promising.

He’s been around a while--how does he cope when things don’t go quite so well?

Hoffenheim’s meteoric rise through the German league pyramid culminated with their topping the league at the winter break--an achievement given the tag “Autumn Champions.” But by the end of the season, as Rafael Hoenigstein says, they were “officially the worst autumn champions in the history of the Bundesliga.”

Why did the wheels come off in their title challenging season? Hoenigstein summed it up as follows: “inflated egos, infighting, and injuries.” You might also add “indiscipline."

Well, that's a little worrisome, though at the same time it was Rangnick who almost single-handedly dragged Hoffenheim out of the third tier of German football in 2006 to get to the point where they could be Autumn Champions in 2009 before imploding (don't think Hull City don't think Hull City don't think Hull City fuck you just thought Hull City). If the betting sites are right, one will have to simply hope that he has learned from his mistakes, because there is otherwise quite a lot of promise to be found in his record and style.

Oh, and he resigned on Sunday after having his star player sold out from under him. So he's available to replace Roy Hodgson today.

* I suppose it's unavoidable, really, so here's a quick trans(hey, sailor)fer roundup, or at least a listing of the stories being passed around most by websites near and far in a dubiously sourced speculative wank-fest (and occasional sob-fest) over 97% untruths. That I'm now adding to in the grand interweb echo chamber. But at least I have the good grace to be a bitter asshole about it all:

* Most talked about rumour number one sees German international Mertesacker in, with continued rumblings that Agger will be on his way out variously because he's constantly injured or because Hodgson's staying for the next five years or yadda yadda yadda. For the record, we already have 73 center halves and Agger is awesome.

* Elsewhere, the long rumoured January signing of winger Sylvain Marveaux may end up instead being a pre-contract agreement leading to a free transfer in the summer after Rennes reportedly bumped their January asking price for the oft injured player from £1.5M to £2.5M. For the record, I have little opinion on a player coming in on the cheap six months from now. At least he'd be a younger and less expensive gamble than Joe Cole.

* Meanwhile, god damn do I hate transfer season: The official site (fuck you, Media Watch) reproduces a Goal.com story that reproduces a report from, apparently, a German newspaper called Hamburger Morgenpost, which sounds a very unlikely name if you ask me. And I suppose that I'm rather reproducing the story now. At least, given that LFC.tv didn't feel obliged to give a link to Goal, who in turn didn't feel obliged to link their source, I can continue the general asshattery and not link to any-fucking-body. Oh, right, the story: another winger, Eljero Elia this time, could be heading to Liverpool from Hamburg. For the record, he isn't Eden Hazard, and his cameos for the Dutch at the World Cup seemed to show a selfish player with more pace than sense who could beat his man every once in a while but often wandered into blind alleys after refusing to pass to teammates. I don't know if he spends his spare time rapping.

Well, now you're up to speed, at least. Though in all likelihood none of the above will come to pass. Also for the record, I may not survive January.

In the meantime, Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall...