Manchester United surprised us all earlier in the year when the club actually went ahead and did what they had promised to do for years, and hired a director of football.
The relatively unknown name of John Murtough got the nod, an internal appointment of a figure already employed by United, with Darren Fletcher brought in to work underneath him as technical director.
Rather than work to replace Ed Woodward, Murtough simply works underneath the hapless chief executive, reporting to him.
The worry for United fans was that Murtough would simply be a figurehead, without any real power to influence football matters.
The Telegraph reported in May that Woodward would still oversee transfers, and Gary Lineker told The Mail last month how it was Woodward who signed off on the Ronaldo deal – from his garden where they were socialising.
So how much say does Murtough actually have in key matters?
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s job on the line, Murtough appears to have limited influence.
The Mail reported this week that four men held crisis talks over Solskjaer on Monday, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer via Zoom, with chief executive Ed Woodward and his expected replacement, commercial director Richard Arnold.
These four are the suits who have conspired to botch the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era so far, and it appears the director of football has little say.
Director of football seems to wield no key power
There were more developments at Carrington on Tuesday when it emerged Sir Alex Ferguson had been in for crisis talks, along with former chairman Martin Edwards, The MEN reported.
There was no mention of Murtough anywhere in either report.
For such a key role, this seems odd, and it also seems telling about how United regard Murtough and his role at the club.
Sporting directors and directors of football at European clubs are often given power over a manager’s future, or at least a say.
On Murtough, The Athletic report his job is purely an ‘advisory role’.
If Solskjaer goes, it is unlikely to be Murtough’s decision, but the men above him. And perhaps it is too big a call for the newly installed director of football to make, but you would expect him to be more prominent in discussions.
Do we expect Murtough to have more say than Fergie? No. Do we expect Murtough to at least have a say and be a prominent part of discussions? Yes, he should be involved.
Murtough’s role may develop and grow when Woodward leaves. Arnold is not a football man, and he may stick to the commercial side with Murtough growing a stronger grip on control of the football side.
At the moment it appears from the outside as though he is not being given the responsibility which his role should yield.
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