Murtough flaws, backing players a risk, and Ronaldo whispers: The Treble column

The Treble column: June 24

John Murtough remains an unproven risk at Manchester United

It is now over a year since John Murtough was appointed as director of football. Last summer he still had to work in conjunction with Ed Woodward, now he has free reign.

Sadly, so far we cannot tell the difference. And this was the concern with Murtough all along.

When Manchester United hired a director of football it was well overdue. But Murtough was not an exciting or pleasing candidate, simply one who had been working under Woodward for years already.

United required a proven figure, the ‘best in class’ as Gary Neville puts it. Instead we got an internal promotion, of a figure who has been at the club since arriving with David Moyes in 2013.

So much for a fresh start. Early concerns about United’s transfer business this summer are well-founded, and Murtough has to deliver.

United were linked this week with hiring former Liverpool supremo Michael Edwards, but  The Mail report there is uncertainty where he would fit around Murtough. That should not be the top concern.

The same worries exist with new chief executive Richard Arnold, who says he wants to be different to Ed Woodward, and yet, has been part of the existing structure at United under the Glazers for the past decade.

United really needed a brand new CEO, and a brand new director of football, neither of who had any ties to the Glazer regime of failure over the past few years. We don’t have that, and so, fears continue to exist that United will continue to meander as silverware-shy also-rans.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Ten Hag’s rehabilitation project carries risk

One of the reasons for a lack of signings, or consequences of, is Erik ten Hag and his coaching staff looking to improve United’s existing squad.

Ten Hag said in his opening press conference that United had talent, pointing to a second placed finish in 2020/21.

But it is a dangerous game to put so much faith in a squad which downed tools last season and only scraped sixth place.

It is also badly underestimating how tired supporters are of the current players, and the lack of trust in their ability and mindsets.

There are several players who appear to be on their last chance already, and patience won’t last an entire season.

It could be a real misjudgment on the club’s part, to give these players another chance. Ralf Rangnick said a major overhaul was required with 10 players needing to be brought in, and history will likely be kind to this assessment, and United will pay the price for now following his advice.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Ronaldo whispers are entirely understandable

The only person more frustrated with Manchester United’s lack of transfer business than supporters, is Cristiano Ronaldo.

At least according to Portuguese newspaper Record, which claims Ronaldo is stressed and exasperated at the way City and Liverpool have strengthened further, and United have done nothing.

We can’t blame him. Ronaldo is a proven winner, arguably the greatest of all time, and he was let down last season by ineptitude all around him.

The potential endgame for these concerns would be Ronaldo demanding to leave, late in August like he did with Juventus. It shouldn’t be ruled out.

These rumours may be denied, but it’s hard not to believe there is an element of truth to them.

United are playing with fire by not giving Ronaldo a team capable of challenging for honours, he won’t stand for it, he is too proud, and rightly so.

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