United put find­ing first direc­tor of foot­ball back on the agenda

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - Ex­clu­sive By Mike Mc­Grath

Ed Wood­ward will look to ap­point a direc­tor of foot­ball at Manch­ester United, as the ex­ec­u­tive vice-chair­man puts cre­at­ing the role back on his agenda.

Wood­ward first looked at the po­si­tion two years ago, and has now re­turned to the idea of a wide-rang­ing post to sit along­side the ex­ist­ing struc­ture at Old Traf­ford, work­ing in var­i­ous de­part­ments such as re­cruit­ment, the train­ing ground and women’s foot­ball.

Atletico Madrid’s An­drea Berta is among the sport­ing di­rec­tors who may be tempted to work for one of the world’s big­gest clubs. Oth­ers who are highly rated in­clude Fabio Paratici, of Ju­ven­tus, and An­tero

Hen­rique, who left Paris St-Ger­main a year ago.

Wood­ward has out­lined the cri­te­ria for a first direc­tor of foot­ball in the club’s his­tory, but is yet to start the process of short­list­ing can­di­dates, with his pri­or­ity be­ing the com­ple­tion of the sea­son and deal­ing with the fi­nan­cial im­pact of the pan­demic.

The po­si­tion will be one of the most pres­ti­gious roles in world sport. How­ever, United are not seek­ing a fig­ure to change the cul­ture of the club, but to be part of the ex­ist­ing struc­ture around man­ager Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer.

United have been pleased with their re­cruit­ment since a shift in pol­icy from tar­get­ing mar­quee sign­ings such as Alexis Sanchez, who has been loaned out to In­ter Mi­lan this sea­son. Home-grown, younger play­ers were brought in last sum­mer and the Jan­uary ar­rival of Por­tu­gal mid­fielder Bruno Fer­nan­des has been among the best sign­ings of the sea­son.

Rather than over­see­ing re­cruit­ment, the club’s first direc­tor of foot­ball would work with the cur­rent set-up, which in­cludes Sol­sk­jaer and his coaches, scouts, data an­a­lysts, plus Matt Judge, who ne­go­ti­ates deals.

The new re­cruit would also have re­spon­si­bil­ity for as­sess­ing the train­ing ground at Car­ring­ton, where changes are ex­pected to be made.

The chal­lenge for United will be ap­point­ing the right per­son. The role at other clubs in­volves find­ing play­ers for the coach, which can mean hav­ing a key in­flu­ence on the style of foot­ball. United will seek a can­di­date to be part of their cur­rent sys­tem, rather than rip­ping up a plan that has served them well for the past 18 months.

Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bis­saka and Dan James have been viewed as suc­cesses, while the ar­rival of Fer­nan­des has helped Sol­sk­jaer’s team go on a run that gives them a chance of reach­ing the Cham­pi­ons League with a top-four fin­ish this week­end.

United are look­ing at sign­ing another young Eng­land in­ter­na­tional in Jadon San­cho, with Borus­sia Dort­mund pre­par­ing for his de­par­ture should a deal be struck. More changes to the squad are ex­pected, with a cen­tre-back another area that could be strength­ened.

Jesse Lin­gard is among the play­ers with one year left on his con­tract at United and he has spo­ken of “off-field is­sues” that af­fected him at the start of the sea­son. His fu­ture has ap­peared un­clear af­ter his fail­ure to start a Premier League game since Jan 1.

“At the start of the sea­son I had quite a few off-the-field is­sues that I had to deal with pri­vately,” Lin­gard said. “Ob­vi­ously I spoke to the man­ager about it and he un­der­stood.

“When I was play­ing, I wasn’t re­ally fully con­cen­trated. I was think­ing about dif­fer­ent things in the back of my head of what’s hap­pen­ing off the field. I wasn’t men­tally right, re­ally, to play even, to an ex­tent.

“Lock­down kind of came at a good time for me, where I could re­ally re-eval­u­ate the things that were hap­pen­ing. It’s just about get­ting me back to the old Jesse.

“I’ve got good peo­ple around me that are look­ing af­ter me. The coach­ing staff are happy, so I’ve got to wait for my op­por­tu­nity now.”

Back­ing: A direc­tor of foot­ball would be part of the ex­ist­ing struc­ture around United man­ager Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.