Manchester United finally appointed a director of football last month, promoting John Murtough to the role.

Murtough had been working as United’s ‘head of football development’.

It is initially regarded as a positive that United finally have a director of football in place, and Murtough deserves a chance to be judged for his performance in this new role.

But there is a concern that Murtough’s internal promotion will not give United the jolt required behind the scenes, and that Ed Woodward will still have the final say.

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

Is Murtough ambitious enough? Is this just a repackaging of the same man working the same role, under a different title?

These are legitimate questions and United fans don’t want to have the wool pulled over our eyes by the club making a convenient, easy appointment, just to tick a box.

So Murtough has a lot to prove, and this summer is a big one – even though he deserves several transfer windows to get it right.

Even approaching this with an open mind, some of the reports over the past few weeks since his appointment, give reason for concern.

1) United have lost Nicky Butt

Butt spent nine years overseeing United’s academy, and he resigned two weeks after Murtough’s appointment.

The Athletic reported Butt was frustrated to be overlooked, and that he was not consulted about the changes as part of the process.

This was a bad look for United. Butt has been an asset for the club, and losing him in these circumstances could have been avoided.

Was promoting Murtough into this sideways role change worth losing Butt over?

 

2) Ed Woodward is still involved

The Mail reported John Murtough and Ed Woodward met with Edinson Cavani’s agents over the international break to discuss his future.

This is a little concerning, because the point of a director of football, would be to handle these discussions himself.

Why is Ed Woodward there, and why can’t he stay away?

This shows Woodward is reluctant to fade away into a role simply overseeing commercial activities, as supporters would prefer.

3) Woodward did not want a ‘demanding’ candidate

A report from the MEN last week made a concerning claim about why United did not want to target Edwin van der Sar for the role.

“Van der Sar was the most eminently qualified candidate to become United’s inaugural football director and that is why Ed Woodward was never going to install him. Some figures at United feared Van der Sar would have been ‘demanding’ and he occupies the chief executive role at Ajax. Ergo, he would have been a threat to his counterpart at United – Woodward.”

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-CRYSTAL PALACE
(Photo by RICHARD HEATHCOTE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

What does this say about John Murtough? This tells us Ed Woodward is still in total charge behind the scenes, and paints a picture that Murtough is just going to be his ‘yes man’.

This may not be the case, and we should retain an open mind, but Murtough has to work hard to establish his own personality in this role and drive United to success.

With Woodward in charge over the past eight years acting as the Glazers’ frontman, United have failed to deliver on the pitch.

Despite the team sitting in second place in the Premier League, there is a lot of work to do. Murtough, and Woodward it seems, will have to work hard to move United into first place.

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