Manchester United have made a surprise appointment with John Murtough becoming their football director.
After years of calls for Ed Woodward to appoint a director of football, the role has been handed to a relatively unknown but important member of the existing staff.
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Former midfielder Darren Fletcher has also been named technical director in a major restructure, but it is Murtough’s appointment that has caught the eye.
He moves into a bigger role after seven years at the club and will work with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on a day-to-day basis.
The moves are part of a wider restructure of United’s operations – but just who is Murtough and how has he landed the key role?
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What is his background? Murtough started his career as a sports scientist at Everton under former Manchester United manager David Moyes.
He worked his way up to become their Head of Performance before leaving in 2012 to become Head of Elite Performance at the Premier League.
In 2013, he followed Moyes to Old Trafford and became Head of Football Development. He has become a close confidant of Ed Woodward having helped put the pathway in place which has produced Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and other top talents.
He has overseen the United academy as well as leading an expansion of the scouting department and network. United have signed several talented youngsters in recent years with Murtough believed to be involved.
For example, it was reported he travelled to Norway with French youth scout Mathieu Seckinger to watch Hannibal Mejbri as a 16-year-old before they splashed the cash to sign him from Monaco.
Murtough reportedly also headed up special projects, such as developing a data science strategy similar to the ones use by rivals Liverpool and Manchester City .
What will he do? Murtough’s new role will focus on player recruitment and ensuring the first-team has the operational support required. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will continue to have input into the recruitment process along with United’s worldwide scouting and data analyst network.
They will report in to Murtough, who will head up the football operations. The new roles mean Woodward’s involvement in transfers will be reduced.The recruitment department headed up by Murtough will decide on targets with Solskjaer having the final say.
Murtough will now be the first point of contact for clubs who want to buy or sell players with Matt Judge, given a new title as Director of Football Negotiations, continuing to oversee the process of negotiating transfer deals and contract renewals..
What has Murtough said?: “This is such an exciting time for everyone at Manchester United with the first team, Academy and Women’s team all performing strongly, and plenty of development still to come.
“It’s a privilege to be part of that process, and an honour to lead Manchester United’s football department, working alongside Ole, Casey and so many other truly outstanding staff all dedicated to delivering success to this club.”
What has Ed Woodward said?: “These are hugely important appointments that reinforce the progress we have been making as a club in recent years in our relentless pursuit of success.
“We have already made great strides forward in the way we run our football operations, and the benefits are visible in the resurgent pipeline of Academy talent reaching the first team and through our improved recruitment record.
“John has been integral to our progress in these areas and his deep understanding of development ensures the club’s traditions of bringing young players through from Academy to first team will continue.
“This new position is a natural evolution that harnesses his leadership qualities and his years of experience in the game.
“Darren’s stellar achievements as a player and his own journey from Academy to Premier League and Champions League winner means he naturally commands respect and understands this vital part of the club’s DNA.
“In this new role, the first in our history, he will deliver technical advice across all aspects of the football department as well as contributing to the communication and delivery of our football philosophy across all areas of the club.
“I am delighted that John and Darren have accepted these roles and I look forward to the contribution they will make, together with Ole and the rest of the staff, as we build toward future success.”
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