Manchester United is set to nominate the first director of football in its 140-year history, as soon as the club's current restructuring and expansion of facilities will be completed.
The move will allow United a continuity of football style and ethics, as well as a leaner transfer policy. It is understood that this is also the recognition by the hierarchy of the need to modernize in an era in which managers are often on site only for the short term. This can lead to disjoint recruitment and a disconnection between the manager and the executive.
United suffered just this in the transfer window that closed on Thursday. José Mourinho believes he needs a central defender on the front line to strengthen his team and while the board led by Ed Woodward, executive vice president, was in favor he was not willing to sanction what was seen as the exorbitant assessments required for particular objectives of the manager. Woodward should still have a key role in recruiting after the appointment of a director of football, with Mourinho and his successors still substantially involved in the recruitment of players.
In the summer, the manager identified Harry Maguire from Leicester, Jérôme Boateng from Bayern Munich and Diego Godín from Atlético Madrid as possible purchases. However, United decided against a move for none of them as the conclusion was that no one would significantly improve the central defenders already at the club, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelöf. This left Mourinho frustrated at the board of directors and the executive confused in some of the manager's public statements regarding the transfer policy.
A football director would provide a buffer between hierarchy and manager with the extra level of experience designed to maintain United's style and ethos. This will allow an immediately recognizable model to identify the players and each new task to the manager.
It is not clear how Mourinho could react if a football director is appointed during his term. After a 2-1 win against Leicester on Friday night, he admitted that his influence on transfers declined, when he complained about losing a central defender.
Mourinho, whose team won thanks to the goals of Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw only replied to Jamie Vardy in the minutes of recovery, said: "I had my plans for many months and I find myself with the market closed in a situation that I did not think I would be in. I think football is changing and managers should be called head coaches ".
An example of how a football director can work is available nearby. In Manchester City, the champions have Txiki Begiristain, under the job title of the sports director. A key part of the Spanish role is to identify suitable managerial candidates, as in the case of Pep Guardiola, appointed in 2016.
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Previously, United has adhered to a long-term managerial model, and while this remains ideal, position requirements have become more pressing, often making it an elite club's possession in a two-year cycle. or three years. Following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in May 2013, David Moyes received a six-year contract in hopes of building a similar dynasty to Old Trafford on his predecessor. Ferguson was responsible for 26 and a half years, but Moyes was fired in April 2014 and his replacement, Louis van Gaal, lasted two seasons before being replaced by Mourinho.
Mourinho, who is under contract until June 2020, has suggested that any challenge for the title this season is unlikely and that defending the second place achieved in May will be difficult. The point of view of the top of the club is that the Portuguese may be too dependent on short-term corrections and that given the strong defensive record of United in his two seasons in office, Mourinho should be able to mount a credible tilt of the title.
The executive believes that if a greater number of goals can be provided in support of Romelu Lukaku – who scored the highest score with 16 in the league last season – then the 19 point gap in City can be bridged. This puts pressure on Mourinho to get improvements from Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sánchez, among others.
The United States is discussing the expansion of their training complex in Carrington because the newly formed female team requires extra facilities and staff. Once these changes have been made, the director of football is expected to be appointed.