| 6.8°C Dublin

united debate The winds of change have swept through Manchester United, but what happens next?

Close

John Murtough (L) and Darren Fletcher pose after being named Football Director and Technical Director of Manchester United at Aon Training Complex

John Murtough (L) and Darren Fletcher pose after being named Football Director and Technical Director of Manchester United at Aon Training Complex

John Murtough (L) and Darren Fletcher pose after being named Football Director and Technical Director of Manchester United at Aon Training Complex

It was an announcement that came without fanfare, yet the change of structure at Manchester United offers the potential for the club to move in a very different direction in the coming years.

Ed Woodward's controversial reign as the chief decision making on all footballing matters at Old Trafford came to an end last month, with United appointing a Director of Football in John Murtough and confirming academy graduate and Premier League title winner Darren Fletcher as Technical Director.

The position of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to be cemented as he enjoys a close working relationship with the two new men at the top, but what will the changes mean for the future of the club?

WHO ARE THE NEW MEN AT THE TOP?

John Murtough had been the Head of Football Development at United since 2016. He joined the club in 2013 after working with David Moyes during his time at Everton. The Liverpudlian who is seen by many at United as a ‘fixer’ even had the backing of Solskjaer who described him as: “A cultural fit.”

Close

Darren Fletcher has been handed a new role (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Darren Fletcher has been handed a new role (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Darren Fletcher has been handed a new role (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Darren Fletcher is someone United fans know well, as the former Red Devil played 342 times for United and recently re-joined the club as part of the coaching set up. His new role as Technical Director will involve working closely with head of first-team development, Nicky Butt along with Solskjaer and Murtough.

WHAT WILL BE ON THE AGENDA THIS SUMMER?

There will be some big decisions for Murtough to make as he settles into his role. One being the goalkeeper situation. David De Gea looks to be past his best at the club and Dean Henderson’s concentration has been called into question by some. Does this mean United will have to go into the dangerous market for a quality shot-stopper? Some are tipping Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak to be the man to replace De Gea but he definitely won’t be cheap and funds could perhaps be spent better elsewhere.

WHO IS IN THE FIRING LINE?

The future of Anthony Martial needs addressing as the French striker has once again flattered to deceive when leading the line for United. Edinson Cavani's impact this season has highlighted United' need for a more clinical No.9 and Martial is no longer producing the goals consistently. The mercurial Frenchman has had his moments of magic for the Red Devils but football clubs need to know the right time to let a player go.

Paul Pogba's position also needs to be resolved. His outspoken agent Mino Raiola has made no secret of his client's desire to leave United at the end of this season, but it remains to be seen whether there will be any takers as top clubs around Europe struggle to cover their financial loses from the Covid-19 crisis.

THE KEY TARGET

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland could be the answer to United’s striker shortage, with Cavani entering the twilight of his career and goals drying up elsewhere.

Close

Erling Haaland is in demand

Erling Haaland is in demand

Erling Haaland is in demand

The 20-year-old striker has been tearing up Europe for Borussia Dortmund and while he will not come cheap this summer, he has been identified as the club's top target. Haaland already has a relationship with Solskjaer, having played under him at Molde, and the Old Trafford hierarchy believes he could be the player to take United to the next level.

REFORMING THE TRANSFER PLAN

Manchester United’s transfer policy under Woodward has been bewildering at times, with no real method to the madness, with the appointments of Murtough and Fletcher designed to steady the ship.

The club spent £45million to sign right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace in the summer of 2019 and although he is a promising defender, questions need to be asked about his attacking output. Modern-day full-backs need to contribute scoring goals as well as defending them. The signing of Alex Telles appears to have pushed Luke Shaw's career back on track, with the left-back currently playing some of the best football of his united career. Perhaps Wan-Bissaka needs some competition for his place if he is to raise his game to the required levels.

THE LEADERSHIP QUESTION

With leadership off the pitch now addressed, perhaps the leadership on the pitch needs to be discussed as questions have been asked over whether Harry Maguire is the best option as club captain. Maguire was given the armband as there was a perceived lack of leadership in the dressing room, but that issue was solved by the capture of Bruno Fernandes.

Close

Bruno Fernandes has made a stunning impact at Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Bruno Fernandes has made a stunning impact at Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

Bruno Fernandes has made a stunning impact at Manchester United (Martin Rickett/PA)

United's players don’t seem to look to Maguire for guidance but rather to Bruno who leads by example. Bruno Fernandes is the captain in all but name and maybe stripping Maguire of the armband would allow him to spend more time on defending.

WHAT NEXT FOR SOLSKJAER?

The man in the dug-out is ultimately in charge but is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the right man to lead Manchester United to success? So far, he has failed to take the team past a semi-final in a cup competition and although United's Premier League position has improved this season, they are still a long way behind local rivals Manchester City.

Close

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.  (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Fans are always going to support Solskjaer for everything he did for the club as a player, but the real question is can he also achieve success as a manager. Moving forward, can the club afford to be so sentimental relying on fans memories of past glories rather than creating new sustainable success? Ole's at the wheel but even his close friend and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville admits a new driver will be hired if trophies don’t start returning to Old Trafford.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors


Top Videos





Privacy