With Specialists In The Role At Chelsea And City, Who Would Be The Ideal Director Of Football At Manchester United?

Posted: July 29, 2017 in Arsenal, Chelsea, European Football, Football, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Transfers
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At Manchester City it is Txiki Begiristain, at Chelsea it is Michael Emenalo, at Liverpool it is Michael Edwards and at Arsenal it is Arséne the Omnipotent.

These are the Directors of Football or Sporting Directors or Technical Directors or whatever other fancy name they have been given to justify a very large salary. A salary nobody would begrudge them providing they serve the club and the supporters well.

The two stand-out names here are the ones at Chelsea and City who have been responsible for some excellent signings at the two clubs. They seem to have adopted the attitude that if the manager wants the player enough, then they will pay the price.

Emenalo, to be fair, would appear to have blotted his copybook recently in allowing City to sign two or three Chelsea targets and United to sign another but, overall, he has a decent record.

Ed Woodward, on the other hand, appears to have reversed his “strategy” and will not now pay the going rate having done so for the last few years. In fact, he has paid MORE than the going rate for players in the recent past but managed to confuse supporters by refusing to meet the demands of Real Madrid for Alvaro Morata and then spending even more on Romelu Lukaku from Everton.

Now, whatever his “strategy” is, it isn’t working, as he has signed nobody since Lukaku, despite his manager resorting to begging in his press conferences for new players to be brought in.

It is long past the time for Ed to be replaced in this role. Leave him sorting out the sponsorship deals by all means but take him out of the transfer hot-seat.

The reason for clubs appointing Directors of Football is because transfer business is a specialist role. It is about contacts, friends of friends, the goodwill of other clubs and a trustworthy character. The impression at Old Trafford is that Ed Woodward has just photocopied David Gill’s contacts book and introduces himself to them over the phone when he needs a player.

This approach clearly doesn’t work. Contacts need nurturing, like any relationship and will only bear fruit after trust has been built and both parties are happy with each other.

One way of getting a head start over the opposition is to appoint a Director of Football who already has a famous name. This would help to circumnavigate some of the trust issues and would immediately open some of the doors which are closed to a new, unknown man.

The irritating aspects of this role at Old Trafford are twofold. Number one; it doesn’t exist. Number two is that United already employ some good candidates for the role of DoF but, at present they are employed as club ambassadors. Why? Because their faces are well known around the world and they have immense knowledge of the game.

Wouldn’t these be two big advantages to have as a DoF?

Without doubt the most famous club ambassadors at United are the two knights. They would probably turn down any job offer as they are both well into a retirement which allows that the club still pay them and they are only required to turn up at matches occasionally. They are also both getting on in years so probably wouldn’t appreciate being involved in the cut-throat business of football transfers!

There are others, however, who don’t appear to do very much other than travel the world and promote the club. Nice work if you can get it! Amongst these ex-players though, are candidates for the role of DoF and it might be worth giving it a try with one of them.

Bryan Robson, Denis Irwin and TV’s very own “Absolutely Dwight” Yorke are three well known names from the past who, you would think, would have no problem in talking to other clubs about signing their players, which is after all, the major requirement of the job. Whether or not any of them would choose to give up their current cushy numbers is another question and, if not, then alternatives need to be looked at, but the need for a DoF is not going to go away.

On the contrary, the argument for the position to be created at United has only strengthened and we have certainly been asking for it for four years or so now. Here’s an article we wrote for HITC on the same subject in 2013 and here’s another one.

What do you think? Vote in our poll on the left or tell us in the comments section below.


  1. RedMe says:

    After the documentary I saw a few years ago I wouldn’t trust Bryan Robson in the job.



    I would prefer other candidates from outside man utd to become Director of Football (experience candidates that is a specialist in the job for 2 to 3 clubs in 3 to 4 years). But there should a space for Technical Director and Sporting Director if there is, then the Technical Director should go Bryan Robson and the Sporting Director should go to Denis Irwin so that the Director Of Football, Technical Director and Sporting Director should work together.


  3. Yes, I agree Man United should create a post of Director of Football.


  4. Jaya Pillay says:

    A director of football is essential today. Ed Woodward is out of his depth. Clueless in dealing with transfers. It needs a person with a football pedigree. My vote goes to Bryan Robson.


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