Manchester United identify targets to become their first director of football
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester United have badly needed a director of football.
Recruitment has been muddled and sometimes ineffective since Ferguson retired and David Gill, the former chief executive, left the club in 2013. The current United squad contains players signed by Ferguson, David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, four managers with different views on the game.
Since Mourinho replaced Van Gaal in 2016, he has set about shipping out several of the players his predecessor bought, from Bastian Schweinsteiger to Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay to Daley Blind. Van Gaal himself got rid of several Ferguson favourites, such as Danny Welbeck, Robin van Persie and Rafael. The manager who eventually replaces Mourinho will do likewise. That is what happens when a club changes manager often.
As the summer's transfer activity at Old Trafford conveyed, there is also a desperate need for a link between the boardroom and the dugout. Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman with the final say at the club, reportedly wanted the club to sign star names, like Gareth Bale. Mourinho wanted functional players to help him win trophies. The club's directors reportedly felt some of his targets were overpriced.
By the time the window closed, United had only made three new signings. Thier haphazard approach was summed-up by Mourinho seeking another central defender, despite already having five senior central defenders at the club.
A go-between the dugout and the boardroom, and someone with extensive football knowledge is evidently needed at the club. And it appears United are beginning the process of appointing a much-needed director of football.
According to Miguel Delaney, writing in The Independent, United have started sounding out potential candidates for the role. It's very early days in their search, but the club have identified figures such as Monchi, who works for Roma, and Juventus' Fabio Paratici.
Interestingly, Edwin van der Sar is also a potential candidate. The former Dutch goalkeeper played 266 times for the club from 2005 to 2011. He helped United win four league titles and saved the decisive penalty in the 2008 Champions League final. Since retiring, he has worked for his boyhood club Ajax and has been their CEO since 2016.
Mourinho said following Friday evening's 2-1 win over Leicester that his title should perhaps be changed to "head coach" rather than the traditional role as manager. Perhaps the United boss is expecting a director of football to arrive at some point this season.