Reasons revealed as Man Utd make U-turn over director of football role

Date published: Monday 4th May 2020 1:00 - Robert McCarthy

Ed Woodward

Man Utd reportedly ‘no longer want’ to appoint a director of football despite links with a number of potential targets.

The Old Trafford club were said to be hoping to appoint their first-ever director of football before the end of last season, although that never materialised.

Names such as RB Leipzig’s Paul Mitchell, Ajax’s Edwin van der Sar and Atletico Madrid sporting director Berta have been bandied about over the past year or so but United’s hierarchy have still to make an appointment.

And now a report in The Athletic claims that ‘such a precise role is not on the agenda anymore’ as ‘United do not seek a guru to lead policy for signings, nor will anybody come in to take ownership of who sits in the dugout.’

The relationship between executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is described as ‘vital’ and Woodward ‘remains trusted by the Glazer family even after David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and [Jose] Mourinho have come and gone.’

The Athletic adds: ‘The simple truth is that anybody who now joins will not be given the influence typically associated with such a role because United are eminently satisfied at their collaborative approach, which has been constructed in the years since Ferguson left and took his unique blend of connections, knowledge and leverage with him.’

Solskjaer has already made five successful signings since he took over from Jose Mourinho back in December 2018, with the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes all proving their worth so far.

The report added: ‘All five arrivals under Solskjaer have made a good impression and that only strengthens the idea that, actually, United already have a de facto director of football in the shape of the Norwegian.

‘Like Ferguson, Solskjaer delegates his coaching and thinks of the bigger picture, and you can be sure that as long as he is in charge, the signings will fit a unified template. The debate would come if he goes. Would the next manager take such a holistic approach?

‘United are adamant that the current system means stability for the squad and that the days of a new manager meaning a completely new team have gone. This is why there is no great desire for a director of football — at least as the role has been understood before.’



Meanwhile, Fabio Paratici has warned Paul Pogba that he can expect to be severely hit in the pocket were he to force through a transfer away from Manchester United this summer.

The France international, 27, has been a lightning rod for media scrutiny and attention ever since Man Utd forked out £89.3m to bring him back to Old Trafford in 2016.

His mercurial talents have never been in doubt, but his desire and ability to stamp his authority on big games has frequently been called into question.

Pogba recently spoke in a rare interview regarding his injury rehab during the nationwide lockdown, but many have speculated that his eventual return could come in the colours of a different team at the beginning of next season.

The likes of former club Juventus, Spanish giants Real Madrid and Ligue 1 heavyweights PSG have all been mentioned as suitors and truth be told, they are probably the only clubs capable of pulling together a package big enough to attract Man Utd to sell Pogba; that despite reports that United had already opened talks on a prospective €60m replacement in midfield.

However, whichever club were able to attract Pogba, Juventus’ chief football officer Paratici has warned Pogba to expect a major drop in wages wherever he ends up next. Read more…


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