Manchester United’s recruitment system is still in a confused state, according to a new report from The Athletic.
According to the outlet, “some agents feel there are too many people to contact and convince to get a proposal on the table.”
The current head of recruitment, Steve Brown, is a manager rather than a scout himself and has three department heads reporting to him, “Mick Court, whose specialty is video analysis, Simon Wells, who worked under Sir Alex Ferguson and was brought back by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and Jose Mayorga, a South American whose prominence has risen this summer.”
The obvious point of contact for transfer business, director of football John Murtough, is difficult to get hold of, The Athletic says, and “has his own schedule and cannot answer every call”.
This results in agents calling CEO Richard Arnold, perhaps in frustration.
The loss of head of football negotiations Matt Judge may have led to transitional issues, as has the dismissal of long term chief scouts Jim Lawlor and Marcel Bout.
The Athletic claims that “part of the reasoning” for the dismissal of the trio was that there was an insufficient number of upcoming recommendations.
This seems ironic after a summer in which at least four out of the six players bought were clearly personal recommendations of the manager, Erik ten Hag. Hardly the product of the shiny new recruitment process overseen by Murtough.
“Murtough has made reporting lines clearer for scouts. Previously they were inconsistent — some went into Solskjaer, some into Ed Woodward. Now they all feed into Brown,” The Athletic said. The rewards of this streamlining are not obvious to see so far.
Reporter Laurie Whitwell notes that “United have turned down deals that … represented value”, such as Moises Caicedo.
“There is still a theory within the industry that United would prefer to spend big money on established players than make relatively low-cost purchases of emerging talents,” Whitwell says, which hardly seems to be in keeping with the so-called “United DNA ” of bringing through young talent.
The report says that former interim manager Ralf Rangnick advised United to appoint a sporting director such as Paul Mitchell, but the request fell on deaf ears.
“United also inquired about Dan Ashworth before he joined Newcastle United,” the report states, and “some sources are contemplating whether Michael Edwards could land at United when he finishes his time out after leaving Liverpool.”
There seems little chance of this happening. The removal of Woodward, in particular, and Judge could have been the opportunity for the Glazer family to install football men in key positions but they again opted for Arnold and Murtough, a banker and a data analyst.
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