Manchester United Need To Take A Leaf Out Of Their Rivals’ Books6 min read
It has been six years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired from managerial duties at Manchester United and the club have had a culture shock to life without him. In over half a decade, the Red Devils have been dragged down a path that they are not used to and find themselves hanging on by a thread to their relevancy in the modern era.
Outside of the top four is now becoming a regular occurrence for Man United, who have had yet another turbulent season that filled fans with mass disappointment. The performances on the pitch are scattered and without cohesion, while off the field the recruitment team and key members in the running of the club do not appear to be painting themselves in a positive light either.
When comparing Manchester United to Liverpool and Manchester City, their two arch-rivals, there is a clear contrast not only on the pitch, but also off it. With both clubs, they have a clear organisational chart that stems down from the Chairman and into the manager.
PEP 💬 I know what (Sarri) wants to do.
My first year was difficult too. It needs time and only depends of the believers and owners.
The main reason I came to City was Txiki and the chairman understood me. That’s why I’m enjoying it here in Manchester.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 10, 2019
Along the way, there are Sporting Directors, Chief Scouts, Technical Directors, Heads of Recruitment, and teams of analysts, chewing up numbers when looking at both potential targets in the transfer window, as well as approaching their next game vying for an advantage.
Manchester United, of course, have analysts in abundance and over 50 scouts, which seems rather excessive and is an accumulation of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho’s tenures. For one reason or another, the scouts brought in by these managers are kept on and the list of employed talent spotters continues to grow and become increasingly muddled in their objectives.
With the Red Devils, they have an executive vice-chairman in Ed Woodward who oversees the club. Coming from a commercial standpoint, Woodward has tried to integrate himself into the football side of the club, taking it upon him as well as Matthew Judge, his right-hand man, to negotiate deals with clubs for players and also contracts of their own players.
In a gigantic club such as United, City and Liverpool, it is important to have a clear chain of command that brings with it experience within football and a continuity for the manager to know what is and is not possible. At both City and Liverpool, that set-up is in place with Txiki Begiristain leading the recruitment at the Etihad and Michael Edwards at Anfield. United are still without anyone in the same capacity with the same level of experience.
Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has met Ed Woodward to discuss becoming the club's sporting director. (Source: Daily Mail) pic.twitter.com/blzCAlghhN
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) April 30, 2019
What is also a huge differential is that both City and Liverpool understand what they want to achieve with their current managers. It is not just about silverware, but their philosophy of developing players and maximising the potential of their squads is clear. All key influencers behind closed doors are on board with the job at hand and work in tandem with the managers – a good relationship is the crux of success on the pitch.
Whereas with United, it was only last summer that the story broke suggesting Woodward vetoed Mourinho’s plans for two new central defenders, with the former banker suggesting they were not at a higher quality than what the club already possessed. This season clearly proved the Portuguese coach correct.
If the board, fronted by Woodward, is not going to back the manager they pay handsomely, then they might as well have sacked him there and then and looked for a new head coach. Instead, they wanted to avoid the embarrassment and let their season run into ruins until Christmas.
Manchester United simply have to get the right infrastructure in behind the scenes and that means clearing out the ineffective scouts and putting in place a Technical Director of some sort that has experience at the highest level – such as Atletico Madrid’s Andrea Berta, who has a proven track record in Spain and Italy.
The longer United remain in the past and do not adapt to the modern club operations, the more removed they will be from the upper echelons of European and domestic football.
Woodward simply has to relinquish some control of the club to others if he has any hope of taking United back to where they once were.