Manchester United and the mystery of the missing director of football | Jacob Steinberg

Manchester United have been seeking a director of football for some time now but nothing has happened. No wonder players are thinking twice about joining

Spare a thought for Ed Woodward. As if Paul Pogba issuing a come-and-get-me plea so unsubtle he might as well have jumped out of a cake in the shape of the Bernabu was not distracting enough, now there are claims that Manchester Uniteds executive vice-chairman is having trouble with an unruly director pushing for Steve Walsh to fill the director of football role at Old Trafford.


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You can understand Woodwards reservations. On the one hand Walsh is the man credited with bringing NGolo Kant and Riyad Mahrez to Leicester City. On the other he took the blame for a splurge that resulted in Everton starting the 2017-18 season with 473 creative midfielders and ending it with supporters urging Sam Allardyce to eff off, which is something Walsh might want to gloss over at his next job interview.

Back to that insubordinate director, though. Just who is Sir Alex Ferguson anyway? And how many commercial deals has he got over the line? The internet offers few clues, though it does suggest this Ferguson character held some kind of important role in Uniteds football department for quite a long time, only for it to all end in tears when he provided David Moyes with a glowing reference. Honestly. To think they made him a knight of the realm.

Best to leave it to Ed the Red, then. Until United do appoint a director of football, that is. Only, werent they supposed to have had one in place by now? In fact they were talking about recruiting one for the first time in their history as long ago as last summer, back when Jos Mourinho was delivering sales pitches like Don Draper, albeit a heavily concussed Don Draper, as he merrily explained why nobody should attend his sides pre-season friendlies.

Manchester United have considered a number of directors of football since the Jos Mourinho era but Ed Woodward has yet to appoint one. Photograph: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

The thinking was that United needed a smoother recruitment policy and the topic was revisited after Mourinhos firing in December. Paul Mitchell, previously at Southampton and Tottenham, was mentioned. There were links with Rio Ferdinand the pundit despite zero evidence the former United defender is suited to a demanding, highly specialised job. Darren Fletchers name was also thrown into the mix.

Yet the search has dragged on and United, wounded after their failure to qualify for the Champions League, are likely to remain reliant on Woodward to negotiate transfers before a season when Everton, Leicester, Watford, West Ham and Wolves will aim to overtake them.

It does not have to be this way. At a club short on expertise, however, perhaps it is unsurprising that consistency remains out of reach. Listen to Louis van Gaal explain what a technical director has to do, after all, and you could be forgiven for thinking that implementing a proper system seems like a lot of hard work. You need knowledge of the game, methods of training, preparation experience, youth education, scouting and you have to think in structures, the former United manager told the Guardian last month.

Van Gaal added that he was never asked about football when he was interviewed for the United job in 2014 and in that context it is possible to see how a club can lurch from a possession-based manager like the Dutchman to a pragmatist like Mourinho, before getting all misty-eyed and appointing Ole Gunnar Solskjr.


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United do not have to look far to see how clubs benefit when a manager does not have to worry about dysfunction off the pitch. For all their billions City would surely not have attracted Pep Guardiola if they had not put Txiki Begiristain in charge of recruitment first, while Liverpool are a shining example of how to spend wisely and originally. It is unlikely they would have won a sixth European Cup without the inspirational Jrgen Klopp, but there was a reason the German chose to come to Anfield. Klopp is not stupid. Managers of his calibre want a club with a plan.

The same applies to players who value career progression above money. Once United were the biggest draw in English football, capable of doing as they pleased. Potential signings need more convincing at the moment.

Perhaps Daniel James will turn out to be as canny a signing as Andy Robertson has been for Liverpool. Maybe the former Swansea winger will have Lionel Messi in a headlock in a couple of years. James is untested, though, and remains Uniteds only signing. By contrast Real Madrid have already spent close to 300m on six players and may yet push for Pogba.

United display none of that oomph. They are linked with a new player every day, but they have yet to come up with a suitable offer for Crystal Palaces Aaron Wan-Bissaka. They have wanted a centre-back for a year, but only now have they developed an interest in West Hams Issa Diop. You may recall, by the way, Mourinhos comment when West Ham beat United last September Congratulations to the scout who found Diop.

Anyone fluent in Jos-speak will understand he was really insulting Uniteds talent-spotters. Diop, signed from Toulouse for 22m last summer, was hardly an unknown. Now, after one season in England, there is talk of United being willing to pay 60m for him. The only problem is West Ham have no intention of selling the Frenchman and, at this rate, it is not hard to imagine United starting next season with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in central defence.

It is a messy situation. Supporters console themselves with the knowledge that Ole is at the wheel. Look closer, though. Unfortunately Solskjr is sitting in one of those stationary kiddie-ride cars found outside supermarkets. It bounces around for a bit. It is exciting for a few seconds. Then it stops.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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