Manchester United's history with Paul Mitchell and why links do not automatically mean Mauricio Pochettino will be next boss
Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick was pictured at Old Trafford watching the FA Youth Cup quarter-final last night. Most intriguing was who he was with. He was spotted alongside Monaco sporting director Paul Mitchell.
The MEN report Mitchell was there while seeing family in Manchester, which is not the type of excuse which will quieten rumours he could arrive at the club.
The Athletic reported a fortnight ago United want to sign a deputy football director to support director of football John Murtough. It’s possible Mitchell could be a hire for this role, and that it could evolve into a head of recruitment position.
Mitchell has been on United’s radar for a while. BBC Sport reported in 2018 how he was under consideration for a role at the Red Devils, but it took the club until 2021 to hire a director of football and this ended up being an internal promotion for Murtough.
Mitchell told the Sun in 2018 he was honoured to be linked with the role. He said: “Manchester United are recognised for being one of the biggest clubs in the world. So any link with a club of that size, history and status is very flattering and I am a Manchester boy.”
At the time Mitchell was working for RB Leipzig, overseen by Ralf Rangnick. He left to take the sporting director role at Monaco in 2020.
A report from French website Footmercato claimed in December that Rangnick had recommended Mitchell to United, meanwhile he had rejected an approach from Newcastle United.
Premier League experience and Pochettino link
Mitchell worked at Southampton previously and helped bring Sadio Mane and Dejan Lovren to the club. He worked with Mauricio Pochettino and both left to join Tottenham in 2014.
He had a mixed record at Spurs, helping to sign Dele Alli, although David Pleat had a role in that deal too. A move for Toby Alderweireld was a success, but other deals for Clinton N’Jie and Vincent Janssen proved to be mistakes. Signing Heung-Min Son ended up as a big win which is still paying off for Spurs.
If United hire Mitchell, it doesn’t necessarily mean move for Pochettino is incoming. His relationship with the Argentine was left frayed after Mitchell walked out on Spurs in 2016.
Mitchell was reportedly fed up of working under Daniel Levy and the way he conducted transfer deals, The Guardian reported.
Pochettino told The Guardian: “I feel very disappointed with his decision. It’s his personal choice. We have a relationship from Southampton and I feel very disappointed. But when a person takes a personal decision, what can I do?”
Mitchell’s recent record
Mitchell is credited with helping RB Leipzig to sign Nordi Mukiele and Amadou Haidara, along with Christian Nkunku, Dani Olmo, Angelino, and a loan deal for Patrik Schick, among many others.
Of those names, Schick, Haidara and Nkunku have all been linked with moves to Manchester United in recent weeks.
Mitchell explained his philosophy to Monaco when he took over and it is similar to how United like to operate in transfer windows.
He told the Monaco Tribune: “It doesn’t have to be a whole wave of new players. Two to three to four players every window, of the highest quality, that can try to break into that starting 11.”
Monaco’s deals under Mitchell include highly rated Dutch striker Myron Boadu and Brazilian right-back Vanderson. Centre-back Axel Disasi and winger Kreppin Diatta are also players recruited by Monaco under Mitchell.
It’s possible Mitchell was simply visiting family and his presence catching up with Rangnick at Old Trafford was a red herring. But you can be sure we have not heard the last of this. These links have been popping up for more than four years now, and still have life in them left.