Officials at other clubs have privately revealed their doubts over Manchester United’s Football Director, John Murtough, in a report by The Independent.
Miguel Delaney references how these figures believe the executive role at United may be “too big for him” with Murtough not possessing the same contact base of his peers.
Delaney references Txiki Begiristain at Manchester City as one such example. Begiristain had vast knowledge and experience at the top echelon of European football before taking on the director of football role at City.
Murtough, to an extent, appears to be learning how to do the role on the job.
Delaney’s sources indicate they not do believe the United director would receive such a “lofty role” outside of Old Trafford.
The signings of Casemiro and Raphael Varane are proposed as evidence which points to Murtough’s inexperience in the job. They were brought to Manchester at great expense in a cloud of fanfare, yet they were “obvious” signings. And their availability should have brought question marks with them.
One contact at the Bernabeu revealed that there “was a reason Real Madrid got rid of them.”
Likewise, United’s other signings during the tenure of Erik ten Hag have followed a similar pattern. “Obvious” signings made at the direct behest of the manager. At what point during the past sixteen months has Murtough made an automonous decision at Old Trafford?
United’s neighbour offers the template to follow.
Pep Guardiola will provide Begiristain and his recruitment team a profile of player he needs. They will then work to identify the ideal candidate for that profile, often leading to some low-profile choices at times. City will, naturally, also recruit players at great expense, but it’s the collective process which leads to these decisions.
Of course, there’s 115 other reasons why United’s neighbour is entirely unworthy of praise, but from the perspective of their footballing stucture, they are number one in their class.
Under Ten Hag’s stewardship, Murtough has seemingly always followed the direct request of the manager, despite the Dutchman not necessarily having operated in that manner at a club before; certainly not one with the size and reach of United anyway. Ten Hag himself recently alluded to the importance of Begiristain at City in what could have been interpreted as a cry for help for a more qualified DoF at United.
Delaney reveals it’s been “commented” on how often the club have recruited stars who have previously played under Ten Hag. It is comforting for a manager to bring in a known quanity; someone they trust and have experience of working with. This does not necessarily mean that player is the best candidate for the role however.
The decision of the director of football can sometimes be one of refusal, rather than acceptance, and it still be the correct choice. Murtough should possess the authority to say no when the manager’s request is to spend over £80 million on a player like Antony.
A report earlier in the day by Delaney contends United are “considering” a move to make Andrea Berta one of their football executives. The Italian has forged a strong reputation across Europe, having transformed Atletico Madrid’s “haphazard” recruitment strategy. Whether this would be in place of, or alongside, United’s current executive remains to be seen.
Delaney indicates sources at Old Trafford still believe Murtough has “improved” how his role works. Given there was a complete lack of executive authority on the footballing side of the operation before Murtough, this may very well be true. It is not enough to grant him clemency however.
It is performances on the pitch where United’s football director, and manager, will be judged. At present, both men are failing the test.