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In the summer of 2018, Manchester United were reportedly looking for a Director of Football (DoF) after a disappointing transfer window. After Jose Mourinho inevitably got sacked in December, Ed Woodward mentioned in a brief that the pursuit of a DoF has been stronger than before. However, after links to numerous candidates, we’re here in April 2020 and are no closer to appointing a DoF than two years before. This article will take a look at what a director of football does, why their role is important at a modern football club, and what part they’ll play at Manchester United’s renaissance. We wrote an article on this a few months ago which you can check out here.
What exactly does a Director of Football do?
Every football club has a structure and plans on how to proceed in their dealings. Due to the amount of money involved in football, wrong decisions can be very costly to clubs. An expensive signing that goes wrong can cost a club millions of pounds in transfer fees and wages. That’s why a club needs a structure and pathway to follow in the transfer market. For example, Alexis Sanchez was a brilliant player but not a player that the club needed at the time he was signed.
A Director of Football ensures that the club has a structure and sticks to it. He has an almost overruling decision on all transfers and football-related matters. A DoF is becoming an increasingly important member of any club so much so that every club in the top 6 of England has one, except Manchester United. Overseas, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich all have a Director of Football.
Why do Manchester United need a Director of Football?
As mentioned above, Manchester United are the only top club that don’t have a Sporting Director which ultimately leaves all footballing matters to Ed Woodward and the Glazers. The issue with this is that all their decisions pertain to putting monetary benefits before the actual needs of the club. In the summer of 2018 when Mourinho was crying out for an experienced centre-back, the club got him a central midfielder, a second choice right back and third-choice goalkeeper. Signing Alexis Sanchez, as great a player as he was, the club shouldn’t have signed him because it ruined the wage structure of the club. Ultimately, Ander Herrera demanded a wage hike which the club couldn’t meet and he ended up leaving on a free. Thus costing us a proper team player in exchange for a luxury player.
Who are the likely candidates for this position?
Antero Henrique – The former PSG sporting Director, Henrique was crucial in helping PSG landing Mbappe and stealing him from the grasp of Real Madrid. He also attracted Neymar and Dani Alves while selling tons of deadwood and redundant players turning them into a real force. He has been without a club for a year now and it shouldn’t be a problem getting him over to United.
Luis Campos – Campos was the sporting director of Monaco for three years and is currently the director at Lille. He oversaw the signings of players like Anthony Martial, James Rodriguez, Fabinho, Bernardo Silva, Moutinho and Kondogbia. His Portuguese connection would have been excellent with Mourinho as manager but that shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Paul Mitchell – He’s probably the candidate with the best CV out there. He has worked with Pochettino from his Southampton days and oversaw signings like Nathaniel Clyne and Paulo Gazzaniga who went on to play for Liverpool and Spurs respectively. He also moved to Spurs with Poch where he signed Alderweireld, Alli and Trippier. He has now moved to RB Leipzig who are currently third in the league, one point behind second-placed Dortmund.
There are many honourable mentions that the club has been linked with like Ralf Rangnick, Edwin Van Der Sar, Rio Ferdinand, Fabio Paratici. Signing any old Director of Football isn’t good enough, we need to sign a proper professional who will make a change and not become a mouthpiece for the Glazers. The footballing aspects of the club need to be handled by this man and the commercial side must be handled by Ed Woodward. There can be no leverage that Woodward has over the DoF otherwise it’s like one step forward and two steps backwards. Therefore, the next appointment by Manchester United has to be a DoF and placed on the same level as Ed Woodward.