RALF Rangnick might not be in the Manchester United dugout against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this afternoon but his signature will be embossed on the fixture – if not yet an Old Trafford contract – nonetheless.

The Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel is, after all, a devotee of the 63-year-old's style of football and got his big break in the game when he began his coaching career with the youth team at VfB Stuttgart under the United manager-in-waiting in 2000.

Not only is Rangnick the man who launched Tuchel on the path to management, he has been the inspiration for a slew of the hottest German coaches on the current Bundesliga scene, including Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann, Dortmund's Marco Rose and Borussia Moenchengladbach's Adi Hutter. What United are getting in Rangnick is not only a seminal thinker on the game itself but a Swiss Army knife of a football administrator who has an instinctive eye for young talent.

"He was very early a leader in bringing zonal marking and pressing and the line of a back four into German football and still being aggressive,” said Tuchel this week. “He was one of the pioneers to introduce a 4-4-2 and high pressing. So tactically for sure he is an elite manager with Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte."

Klopp, the Liverpool manager, has been equally effusive in his praise of Rangnick in recent days, admitting that his imminent arrival “is bad news” for the rest of the teams in the Premier League.

Part of the delay in Rangnick's departure from Lokomotiv Moscow has come from the speed with which it became clear United – led in negotiations by John Murtough, the football director and the club's chief executive, Ed Woodward – wanted him earlier this week. Murtough has previous history with Rangnick but the latter was left puzzled after a fact-finding trip, during which he had hosted United's then director of football operations at RB Leipzig, ended without the return phone call that the Englishman had promised. That was the last the German had heard from his new boss prior to recent developments.

So much was Rangnick caught out by United's move that he spent most of last week informing the sizeable backroom and scouting staff – most of them German – that he had brought with him to Moscow that he was leaving. Lokomotiv, still reeling from the surprise, were thumped 3-0 by Lazio in their Europa League home game on Thursday night. Not that those employees would have required much in the way of explanation, of course. This was Manchester United calling, after all.

A further example of what makes Rangnick special comes from his ability to club build. In 2006, when he was approached by Dietmar Hopp, one of Germany's richest men, about taking over at then third division club Hoffenheim with a view to earning promotion to the Bundesliga in five years, Ragnick accepted the challenge but told Hopp it would have to be done in two or three years and promptly went about ahieving just that.

“At that time, nobody wanted to play for Hoffenheim – in this little village, in the second division. That summer, we were at a pre-season training camp in Austria when I decided I was fed up of speaking only to experienced players. We decided to look only for very young, highly talented, market-value players. I spoke to my scouting department, and then tried to contact the players myself and convince them to come.”

And so the template was set. When Rangnick left Hoffenheim in 2011 he successfully exported the method to RB Leipzig, another upwardly mobile lower-tier club with ambitions of reaching the Bundesliga. Again, Rangnick achieved the feat in jig time.

As such, torpor of any kind will not be tolerated by the notoriously meticulous Rangnick. The German will already know which backroom staff he wants to bring with him to United, he will have compiled a list of those players he wants to keep, those he wants to move on and those he wants to bring in.

In many ways he is the dream ticket for a club that has been a model of dysfunction in recent years. He will likely have looked at the money shelled on central defenders such as Harry Maguire for £85m and Victor Lindelof for £30m and cringed. At Leipzig, he took an 18-year-old Ibrahima Konate from Auxerre on a free transfer and within four seasons the Frenchman was sold to Liverpool for £36m. His compatriot, Dayot Upemacano, was spotted playing for Liefering in the Austrian second division and Rangnick snaffled him up for Red Bull Salzburg, where he had been working as director of football in joint-partnership with the drinks company's Leipzig operation and, of course, Bayern Munich paid £40m for the centre-back in the summer. The key to his signing strategy is two-fold: potential new players must be hungry and keen to prove themselves.

“I would only try to recruit players signing their first or second contract, because most of the players in those two teams play there for financial reasons and because it’s nice to live in cities like Salzburg and Leipzig,” he said. “It had nothing to do with developing their own careers.”

It should be music to United's ears but the received wisdom seems to be that Paris St-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino will be anointed as Rangnick's successor – that might just constitute a mistake for Murtough despite Pochettino's obvious qualities.

The coaching tree that has the Argentine sitting proudly on one of its sturdiest branches was planted and tended by Marcelo Bielsa. He and Rangnick have different philosophies on the game, and the latter, certainly, will have designs on sticking around for longer as the coach. Rangnick's entourage will likely have pointed to Tuchel's interim status when he first took over at Chelsea. The German signed an 18-month deal last January and, such was the instant impact he made, that by June he had extended his contract by two years. Solskjaer, too, was appointed on an interim basis when replacing Jose Mourinho in December 2018, so there is form for this kind of thing.

No one should be surprised if Rangnick views the Old Trafford job as an opportunity to audition for the role on a full-time basis. There should be little shock, either, if he makes a roaring success of it.