Manchester United's risky backroom reshuffle with familiar faces could bring consequences
Background image: Jose Francis Del Valle Mojica, CC BY 2.0
Damage control isn’t Ed Woodward’s forte. To divert attention from Manchester United's sloppy run, he’s making moves to get positivity back into the club. However, in aiming to please the fans, he might be putting the Red Devils’ future into further jeopardy.
If his decision to make Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s deal permanent wasn’t early enough, he’s now playing with fire with the behind-the-scenes changes. As he ponders appointing his first director of football, Mike Phelan’s the first name rumoured to take the helm. However, the Red Devils’ executive Vice Chairman’s not convinced with giving responsibilities to a singular candidate. He wants them in bunches for good PR.
Darren Fletcher, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic have all been rumoured for a behind-the-scenes role. Inspired by Avengers: Endgame’s success, the United executive Vice Chairman wants to build his own team of superheroes to magically conjure up a championship-quality team. However, reality doesn’t work as such.
Mixing too many elements often spoils the broth. The reality of their hunt puts to light the inexperience which the boss is rewarding. Phelan was formerly the sporting director at A-League’s Central Coast Mariners. Even in Australia, he only worked five months before joining Solskjaer in December. There’s a gigantic difference between his former job with a new one at Manchester United. On the other hand, Fletcher, Ferdinand and Vidic aren’t even experienced in a technical role.
Moreover, a potential clash of opinions could cause unnecessary problems with too many working together. While the central philosophy going forward is to invest in youth, every person has their own choices. Similarly, if the Red Devils hire multiple men to see through the overhaul, clashes in decisions could arise. Phelan, for example, might want to pursue one talent, yet the others aiding him might have other ideas.
Polarizing opinions could spoil the transfer business once again. Considering how certain post-Sir Alex Ferguson signings have flopped, signing promising talents on a hunch could bring severe repercussions. Rather than going for the obvious options who’ve impressed elsewhere, the incoming technical director’s job will also be to revamp the club’s scouting system. Trusting multiple inexperienced figures with little scouting knowledge will not help their hunt for future talents.
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Also, the emotion factor also plays a role whenever bringing someone formerly associated with the club in such a key role. In an urge to get the Red Devils back into the podium, the behind-the-scenes personnel might up replicating Woodward’s failed signings. They may overpay for undeserving candidates, fail to reinforce positions which are failing and show faith in mediocre players they're biased towards.
Whenever one’s love for a club comes into play, logic often takes the backseat. Realistically, the Red Devils need a few years to reach Liverpool or Manchester City’s level. Recruiting die-hard personnel striving for immediate glory could lead to catastrophic errors. He might’ve made a hurried decision on Solskjaer, but the Executive Vice Chairman needs to be slow and steady with deciding whom he hands the key towards deciding United’s future.
There are positives from hiring those who know the club inside out. They could usher the “Manchester United way” right from the youth to the senior level and make fan-favourite decisions. However, inexperience can invite foolish things. Rather than risking another failure, the United Vice-Chairman should go with a reliable option. RB Leipzig’s Paul Mitchell’s there for the taking.
He knows English football inside out, realizes the gravity of the rebuild and can conjure up some trustworthy talent in cut-throat prices. If they want someone with The Red Devils’ blood inscribed, Edwin Van der Sar’s a prime option. However, convincing him to give up a luxurious position at blooming Ajax will take some doing. The Dutchman would want uncontested control as well as a more prominent position than just that of Technical Director.
Ed Woodward’s decision to take a step back than forward to usher in the long-lost glory days at Manchester United is an intriguing one. However, if an inexperienced pack is brought in to oversee the change, the Red Devils may take a step too many back into reliving the dark ages before Sir Alex Ferguson.