Manchester United made the surprise announcement of the club’s first-ever Director of Football on Wednesday morning after a long process of sounding out potential targets for the role which began back in 2018.
John Murtough is the club’s first DOF, Darren Fletcher has been promoted to the role of Technical Director and Matt Judge has a new title as Director of Football Negotiations. Judge’s new role is more of a title change rather than a job change, his role within the club will stay the same.
In a statement released by the club today, the three men were given new jobs at Old Trafford with Ed Woodward being delighted about the new roles given. Woodward said in a club statement: “These are hugely important appointments that reinforce the progress we have made in our relentless pursuit of success.”
Murtough also spoke in a club statement: "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.”
Fletcher added: “I am delighted to be taking on this new role. We are moving in the right direction and I am looking forward to continuing to work with Ole and his coaching team.”
Fletcher has been a part of United’s first-team coaching staff since January and has now been given a new role at the club.
Murtough is a relative unknown amongst the United fanbase, but the Liverpool born 47-year-old has quite a good reputation in the game. He was formerly at the Premier League as head of elite performance before joining Everton under David Moyes.
He has been at the Old Trafford club for seven years, after joining his fellow countryman Moyes, when the Scotsman was given the top job after Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. He was given the role of head of football development at Old Trafford in 2016.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Mourtough had key involvement in the overhaul of the club’s academy and recruitment department. The question many United fans want answering is what exactly is Murtough’s new role within the club going to entail, will he have the final say on transfers and will he work closely with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
According to The Athletic some of these questions have been answered. Murtough’s new role will see him having overall leadership for operations and strategy on the football side of the club.
He will also work closely with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and will work with the Norwegian in recruitment, with Matt Judge the club’s former head of corporate affairs reporting to the football director under his new title of director of football negotiations.
Fans of the Red Devils may be concerned about his previous experience within the role, but he has been credited with the development of certain young players whilst at Everton. According to The Times, Murtough played a key role in the development of Wayne Rooney, Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley during his time at the Toffees.
He has also had roles at Fulham being the Cottagers academy director, before moving to Coventry City where he was named performance director. He has been described as very forward-thinking according to The Times.
Murtough was involved in the signing of 16-year-old Hannibal Mejbri from AS Monaco in 2019 and was also Alex Telles’ chauffeur as he was driving the player into Carrington for the Brazilian to complete his medical according to The Times.
On paper this appointment looks like a very wise one, he has the experience and is very personable with players it seems which is a characteristic that is priceless.
For Fletcher, the Scotsman has been given the role of Technical Director at the club. Fletcher does not have any experience and it still working towards his pro license, however, this appointment may also be a smart move by United.
According to The Athletic, Fletcher’s role will be adding technical input when it comes to football and performance and will work on the link between the first team and the academy.
The term United DNA has been used a lot, almost in a sarcastic manner by some members of the fanbase but Fletcher has that in abundance. Hiring internally will make the transition smoother, because external candidates may want to change things and have new ideas that don’t align with the club's ideas and philosophies.
With Fletcher in a technical role, Michael Carrick in a coaching role and Solskjaer as the manager, with the experience and the forward-thinking approach of John Murtough. This may be a big announcement and a big step forward for the club. Having Murtough as the link man between Solskjaer and Woodward may be crucial and will also have the power of veto as does the Norwegian manager.
Solskjaer needs to have the power and autonomy on transfers and decisions with contract renewals and players being sold. Solskjaer will have his targets and will need to be given his top targets which as of now the club haven’t backed him completely on that.
If the new director of football can help with this then this will be a superb appointment and Murtough’s personable character will only benefit us in the long run. The players will feel more welcomed, just as Telles was when he was being driven into Carrington by the Liverpudlian.
United needed to get with the program, director of football is a must at any top club, with a proper structure in place. Where the manager gets a say, the director of football should be listening to the needs of the manager and the needs of the owner.
He should have a good relationship with both and maximising the budget with shrewd cost-effective signings that fits the club’s play style and has the required ability. If these things happen this appointment could be revolutionary for the Old Trafford club.