Richard Arnold was confirmed as Manchester United’s successor to Ed Woodward. The development had seemed inevitable since last it was first reported last year.
Arnold faces a challenge to turn United’s fortunes around, and also try to show he can learn from his predecessor’s many mistakes.
One of the key targets for Arnold is to devolve power, to focus on the business aspects relating to the club, and leave football operations to football people.
Ralf Rangnick, John Murtough, and United’s next manager will look to have more control under Arnold next season than any football figure did under Woodward.
Former United star Patrice Evra was among the first to react to Arnold’s appointment. Leaving a message on United’s Instagram page, the Frenchman offered his support to the former commercial director.
Arnold has support of ex-players
Former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel also offered his support for Arnold as he prepares to begin his new role.
Schmeichel told United’s club website: “If you walk around Old Trafford with Richard, you will find out first of all how respected he is but also that he knows people. He knows everyone, he talks to everyone
“I’ve worked for Richard for a couple of years as an ambassador, and I have got to know him and his feelings for the club, and how he’s realised the club is more than a company or institution.”
Former captain Bryan Robson added: “I’m sure that Richard, on certain football aspects, will ask people like David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson for their opinion, because they’re passionate about the club.
“Richard is [also] passionate about the football club and the biggest thing I can say is I know he will want it to be successful. He’s really dedicated and hard-working, and I think it’s a great appointment.”
Fans yet to be convinced
Supporters are understandably cautious over whether Arnold will actually bring the change which is needed. Getting Ed Woodward out was a necessary first step, but there is a fear United are simply replacing like with like.
Despite the good intentions Arnold may have to cede power to Ralf Rangnick and John Murtough, his previous comments do not fill supporters with confidence.
Just last year Arnold told the Associated Press of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “No one in the world is happier than me with the phenomenal success he is bringing.”
Arnold was also the man quoted boasting about social media impressions when United signed Odion Ighalo, quoted by iNews: “Shortly after we concluded the loan signing of Odion Ighalo, he was the top trend worldwide on Twitter.”
There will be an added spotlight now on any gaffes Arnold makes, he won’t be able to hide in a behind the scenes role. Now it is up to him to show new focus and new understanding as he takes on an even bigger responsibility.
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