Manchester United ‘implementing a strategy to win’, says new chief executive

Richard Arnold struck an upbeat tone while football director John Murtough conducts a “thorough” search for a new permanent boss.

Newly-appointed Manchester United chief executive Richard Arnold (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer

Newly-appointed chief executive Richard Arnold says Manchester United are “implementing a strategy to win” as football director John Murtough spearheads their “thorough” search for a new permanent manager.

This has been yet another challenging season at Old Trafford, with a top-four finish the best they can hope for domestically and the Champions League remaining their only route to silverware.

United’s chances of sealing their first trophy since 2017 look faint and fan discontent continues to rumble in the background, but Arnold struck an upbeat tone in his first public comments since being appointed CEO.

Supporters have long since become accustomed to positive remarks about the state of the team being followed by disappointment, but the Red Devils chief executive told those connected to the club to keep the faith.

Richard Arnold became Manchester United CEO on February 1 (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Everyone associated with Manchester United should have belief in the opportunities that lie ahead of us, both on the pitch and in the way we engage and serve our fans,” Arnold, who started the role on February 1, said.

“We have a clear vision and we are implementing a strategy to win with an empowered leadership team to drive that forward.

“We will foster a culture of excellence through a world-class football environment, while strengthening the role of fans at the heart of the club and harnessing the power of Manchester United to make a positive impact on people, the environment and society.

“All of this will be supported by a sustainable operating model that ensures the club is strong for the present and secure for the future.”

Richard Arnold stepped up to the role of CEO after Ed Woodward left Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

After Ed Woodward left his role as executive vice-chairman, Arnold was the main name on the call with United’s investors that followed the announcement of their second-quarter fiscal 2022 results.

Arnold was flanked by more members of United’s executive leadership team than usual, with Murtough among them.

The 48-year-old has been heartened by the “improved results” since Ralf Rangnick replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on an interim basis, with the search afoot for the next permanent manager.

“We know that consistency is key as we strive for a top-four finish this season,” Murtough told investors.

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“I want to reiterate however that this is not the ultimate objective for Manchester United, and everyone at the club is focused on challenging for the top trophies.

“We are now conducting a thorough process for the appointment of a new permanent manager who will take charge this summer, with the objective to get us back to challenging for those domestic and European titles.”

Paris St Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax coach Erik ten Hag are among the favourites to permanently succeed Solskjaer at a club that Murtough believes are on the right track.

The football director said the women’s team are “enjoying a strong campaign” under Marc Skinner, with work having begun to recruit a head of women’s football, while he flagged United’s recent appointment of a director of data science.

Manchester United announced their second quarter financial results on Tuesday (Nick Potts/PA)

Murtough added: “Overall, while there is potential for further improvement and progress, we do feel that we now have the right structures in place across our men’s, women’s and academy teams to support long-term success and we will continue working relentlessly and investing to achieve that.”

United’s second-quarter results for fiscal 2022 showed the club paid £10million “exceptional items”, which included compensation to former manager Solskjaer and certain members of the coaching staff. That figure also took into account a revaluation of the Football League pension scheme deficit.

The results show an operating profit of £5.4m for the quarter, with revenue up to £185.4m – a 7.3 per cent uptick on the same period last year.

United’s net debt has increased to £494.8m – an increase of 8.6 per cent – and player wages were up 19.6 per cent to £97.7m “over the prior year quarter due to investment in the first-team playing squad”.

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