Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ratcliffe shows Man Utd man blamed of ‘wasting £518m’ the door as double arrival nears

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the Manchester United badge

Man Utd are poised for a revamp under Ratcliffe

Manchester United football director John Murtough is to leave Old Trafford after over 10 years service this week with David Ornstein revealed he decided to step down and with Sir Jim Ratcliffe now in the clear to bring in two stellar new appointments.

British billionaire Ratcliffe finally saw his £1.3bn investment into 27.7% of Manchester United go through in early February and the 71-year-old has wasted little time in stamping his authority at Old Trafford. Indeed, even before Ratcliffe’s arrival was given the green light, the club announced that long-serving CEO Richard Arnold was to depart the club, with Omar Berrada – who made the cross-city switch from Manchester City – due to be appointed in his place.

However, that looks to be only the tip of the iceberg with Ratcliffe eager to assemble the strongest backroom team possible at United in an  effort to re-establish the club among the leading forces into English and European football.

To that end, the club has also announced the appointment of the hugely-respected former Juventus and PSG director Jean-Claude Blanc as part of their new-look set-up.

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But having been handed ‘full sporting control’ as part of his £1.3bn investment, it is the way in which United have approached and handled the transfer market which has been the British businessman’s first and most major area of improvement.

As a result, they swooped in quickly to appoint Dan Ashworth as the club’s first-ever sporting director. Moving from Newcastle, who have since placed the 52-year-old on gardening leave, Ashworth’s appointment is reportedly set to cost the Red Devils an eye-watering sum of money in compensation.

Joining him at Old Trafford will be Jason Wilcox, who is to arrive from Southampton to take up a position as technical director. The former Leeds and Blackburn winger was selected for the job ahead of Crystal Palace’s Dougie Freedman.

John Murtough shown the Man Utd exit door

With the duo set to officially take up their positions at the end of the season, plenty of speculation has been placed over the future of Murtough, the man previously put in charge of all United’s transfer dealings.

The 53-year-old was appointed by the club back in 2013 following previous stints working for the Premier League, Everton and Fulham.

Initially brought in to focus on on the academy and scouting, Murtough was promoted to head of football development in 2016 and became United’s first football director in 2021, where he was placed in charge of all transfer activity.

That role saw him placed in charge of the club’s incoming and outgoings on the transfer front, while he was also a key figure in the appointment of Erik ten Hag as manager in 2022.

However, it is his role as the club’s main transfer decision maker for which he is most often judged, be it rightly or wrongly.

And despite having spent £518m since taking charge of transfers in 2021, his decision making in the role has seen him come in for criticism with many accusing him of wasting United’s transfer cash with a series of ill-judged signings.

To that end, Ratcliffe has reportedly been hugely critical of United’s decision to sign the likes of Casemiro and Raphael Varane for both hefty fees and on hefty contracts; moreso given the pair were considered to be in the autumn of their careers upon their arrivals for a combined £111m from Real Madrid.

But as Ornstein, writing for The Athletic, claims, Murtough will ‘leave United’s squad largely as he found it – an uneven, imbalanced and slightly bloated hodgepodge of players that somehow still has plenty of gaps to fill.’

Murtough to officially depart Man Utd this week

As a result, his exit will be officially confirmed by the Red Devils before the end of the week, with Ornstein confirming his departure.

He wrote: ‘In a move now set to be officially confirmed, Murtough has decided to stand aside altogether and let the new set-up take shape.

‘Murtough will effectively be replaced by Dan Ashworth, once the Newcastle United sporting director’s spell of gardening leave finishes, while Southampton director of football Jason Wilcox is on course to be named technical director.

‘United hope Wilcox will start in the coming weeks, provided an agreement can be reached on compensation, whereas more time could be required for Ashworth to commence duties.

‘It brings to an end Murtough’s decade at United’.

While Murtough’s exit will be welcomed by many, he does take some credit for the work he has done at Old Trafford with their ongoing success in producing stellar youth talent – Marcus Rashford and Kobbie Mainoo being the stand-out names – as well as his transformation of the women’s side also seen as a positive development.

In the meantime, Darren Fletcher remains employed as the club’s technical director and United do plan to keep their former midfielder in a role under an as-yet unspecified alternative title. An announcement on the 40-year-old is expected in due course.


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