5 Things on Manchester United’s shake-up behind the scenes

PA Sport staff
·3-min read

Manchester United have finally ended their long-running search for a football director with the internal appointment of John Murtough.

Former midfielder Darren Fletcher has also been promoted to the new role of technical director in a shake-up behind the scenes.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at the two men and their new jobs at United.

The answer within

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United spent time looking at some big-name candidates for a director of football, but ultimately settled on an internal promotion with Murtough. The Liverpudlian was brought to United by David Moyes, recruited from his role as the Premier League’s head of elite performance having previously worked with Moyes at Everton. He was credited with playing a key role with the Toffees’ academy as the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley came through, and played a similar role at United, helping with the development of Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Mason Greenwood among others. Murtough rose to become United’s Head of Player Development in 2016 and has worked closely with chief executive Ed Woodward since.

An obvious choice

Ed Woodward file photo
Murtough’s appointment will take the focus off Ed Woodward in the club’s transfer dealings (Martin Rickett/PA)

Murtough has effectively been fulfilling many of the duties of the job in recent times, and reportedly introduced himself as United’s “director of football” while overseeing recruitment for the women’s team in 2018. His new role will see an increasing focus on recruitment, reducing the much-criticised role of Woodward in this area, with United’s chief negotiator Matt Judge reporting to him. Murtough and his team will identify target and recommend players to Solskjaer, who will sign off on any deal. The role also extends to the women’s team and the club’s academy.

Culture club

Soccer – UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 – Second Leg – Manchester United v AC Milan – Old Trafford
Fletcher made over 340 appearances for United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Fletcher made more than 340 first-team appearances for United after coming through the club’s academy. In more than a decade at the club, the Scotland international won five Premier League titles, the Champions League and the FA Cup. When United first began looking at appointing football and technical directors, Fletcher was one of the former players invited in for meetings in the summer of 2019 – the same summer Fletcher brought his playing career to a close at Stoke. At that time, it was seen as a key requirement of any appointment that they understand and buy into the ‘culture’ that had brought the club such success under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Rapid rise

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Although those talks took place almost two years ago, Fletcher did not return to the club until this January, joining as a first-team coach. In his role, he has tended to watch matches with the club’s analysts rather than alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the sidelines, with that more technical approach recognised in the promotion it has taken him just a couple of months to earn. He is expected to remain a member of the coaching staff for the rest of the season.