Monday 13 August 2018

United set to appoint first ever director of football

For the first time in our club's 140-year history, United are set to appoint our first ever director of football as soon as the current restructuring and expansion of facilities is complete. It's a much needed change at the top - one good piece of news to have come from a turbulent and catastrophic summer, a summer of discontent that has appeared to act as a catalyst to bring a football man on to our board. The move will allow United a more strategic and streamlined transfer policy, a continuity of ethos and to fall in line with most other top European clubs, recognition by the hierarchy of the need to modernise in an era where managers are effectively head coaches seem to have less power - something alluded to by Jose Mourinho after the Leicester win.

United suffered disjointed recruitment and a situation where the manager and those above him aren't on the same page. Mourinho wanted a frontline, top class centre-back to strengthen the squad, and while the board - spearheaded by Ed Woodward - were supportive, they were not prepared to spend over the odds on short-term transfer targets in their 30s. Woodward is still expected to have a role at the club when the director of football comes in, but Mourinho and the new man will be primarily responsible for player recruitment. In the summer, the manager identified Leicester's Harry Maguire, Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld and Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin as possible reinforcements. Yet none were acquired as it was felt that they would not markedly improve on the central defenders already at the club - Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo - much to Mourinho's bemusement.

A director of football would provide an intermediary between the Glazers, Woodward and the boss  with the extra layer of expertise designed to maintain United’s style and ethos. This will allow an instantly recognisable blueprint to identify players and any fresh manager appointment - a forward thinking and a vision to carry the club into a longer term future, rather than operating in the short term as we appear to have done.
An example of how a director of football can work is available nearby. At Manchester City, the champions have Txiki Begiristain, under the job title of sporting director. A fundamental part of the Spaniard’s role is to identify suitable managerial candidates, as was the case with Pep Guardiola, appointed in 2016.  United have previously adhered to a long-term managerial model and while this remains the ideal, the demands of the position have become more relentless, often making a tenure at an elite club a two or three-year cycle.
Who exactly the new man will be remains unclear, with United expected to cast our net wide in the search for our debutant director of football. At the moment, there appear to be four main candidates - Roma's Monchi, Novara's Domenico Teti, Juve's Fabio Parratici and, intruigingly, former United keeper Edwin van der Sar.


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