Manchester United director of football John Murtough attended the club’s fan forum earlier in December and the minutes of his comments have now been released.

Murtough was speaking for the first time since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fired and replaced with interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

Co-owner Joel Glazer did not attend the forum, leaving Murtough to convey the club’s position in relation to the major managerial changes.

Murtough expressed his thanks to Solskjaer, his regret at the decision having to be made, and his confidence that United are in a better place thanks to the Norwegian.

John Murtough and Darren Fletcher named Football Director and Technical Director of Manchester United
(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)


Murtough’s comments in full

Murtough said: “It’s certainly been a turbulent period since we last met in September. We were all feeling optimistic at that time about the strong start to the season. There were grounds for confidence that we were going to
continue building on the progress we saw in the prior two seasons.

“After the promising early-season results, things went off plan. As a club, we felt Ole had earned the right to be given the chance to turn things round, but didn’t get a reaction after the international break, and the Watford game made it clear change was needed.

“We’re all disappointed at Ole’s departure, but he deserves to be judged on his record over the past three years, not his last few weeks – secured our first back-to-back top-three finishes since SAF retired and came so close to winning silverware in the Europa League Final last May.

“He re-set the club’s culture and reshaped the squad, leaving us in a stronger position today than when he returned in 2018.

“Michael Carrick came in and did a very good job during the three games he was in charge. Thanks to him from everyone at the club We wanted him to stay but understood Michael’s reasons for wanting to step away. Important to note that he made his decision before Ralf arrived as interim manager.

“Both Michael and Ole will always be United legends and we’re hugely grateful for the work they put in over the past three years.

“Out of respect for Ole, we did not approach other managers before he left. Our plan then was to appoint an experienced interim manager and Ralf was our clear first choice.

“He’s someone I have admired for a long time, and we’re delighted he’s here. It’s early days but there were positive signs in the Palace game and there’s still lots to play for this season in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

“By bringing in Ralf, we can now take time to run a thorough process for our next permanent manager. Recruiting a manager is one of the most important decisions a football club makes so we want to do it in a careful and considered fashion.

“We have agreement with Ralf to stay on for a further two years in a consultancy role – allowing us to continue drawing on his expertise and advice to support our longer-term goals. As I referenced in September, strong foundations remain in place. We have a football structure in place now, with my role and Darren’s as Technical Director, which provides stability through times of transition.

“Our recruitment process has been overhauled and the academy strengthened, and our investments in these areas are going to bring long-term benefits. The past eight years have been turbulent at times but replacing SAF was never going to be easy.

“Ole got us heading in the right direction and now we’re looking to take the next steps on the journey back to success. We believe the first team squad is the strongest it has been since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, and we have some fantastic young talent coming through.”

Turbulence an appropriate word

Turbulence is an appropriate word to describe the rocky eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down, and the recent few months.

United had no intention of sacking Solskjaer this season and gave the manager every chance to try and turn the poor form around, even sticking by him after a 5-0 home loss to Liverpool.

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League
(Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Eventually United made the right decision, and while Murtough’s comments about the club not approaching any other manager until Solskjaer was fired, are at odds with some of the media reports at the time regarding Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers, this is the version the club want us to believe.

For now, United fans are relatively content with Rangnick. The shrewd German coach is a smart operator who has the chance to lay further foundations for the club’s future success, and this is arguably better than bouncing into a panicked, quick, permanent appointment when a top target is not available.

Murtough’s comments on Solskjaer will split opinion, because ultimately managers are judged on trophies and he failed to win a single one. United still have a chance to end this season with silverware, but FA Cup and Champions League success are a long way off to talk about realistically in December.

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