Technical director no longer top of Manchester United’s priorities
Ed Woodward is content with how recruitment has been dealt with this summer
Fans of Manchester United watch their team play Inter Milan at the Singapore National Stadium. Photograph: Lionel Ng/Getty Images
Manchester United are relaxed about potentially entering the season without a technical director despite it being almost a year since the search to fill the role began.
Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, is understood to be content at how Ole Gunnar Solskjær and the manager’s assistant, Mike Phelan, have dovetailed with the recruitment department and the board regarding recruitment this summer.
Swansea City’s Daniel James and Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka have been bought – for a combined £60m – and a renewed bid for Harry Maguire closer to Leicester City’s £75m-plus valuation could be forthcoming as the final two weeks of the window near.
Paul Pogba, who had expressed a desire to depart, is expected to stay and there is a firm hope that David de Gea will finally agree a new six-year contract that may make him United’s highest-paid player, placing him beyond the £390,000-a-week basic that Alexis Sánchez earns.
Romelu Lukaku is set to leave should Internazionale markedly raise their €60m bid for the striker, with United wanting at least the £75m paid to Everton for him in summer 2017 given the inflated market. Should the Belgian be sold it would help finance any deal for Maguire.
All of this means that the need for a technical director is no longer at the top of the club’s priorities. United’s opening Premier League match is the visit of Chelsea on August 11th, exactly a year since the Observer revealed that United wanted their first director of football in the club’s history. The job description has since changed to someone who would work alongside the manager and recruitment department rather than take an overarching position.
Rio Ferdinand, who had been considered for the role, is no longer thought to be a serious contender.
Nicky Butt’s promotion from head of academy to the newly created role of head of first-team development will entail him having a focus on developing and coaching players making the transition from the youth set-up to the senior side but he will have no input on transfers.