Manchester United are finally set to appoint a director of football, according to The Independent.
The welcome news comes after another painful transfer window that featured missing out on top target Erling Braut Haaland, weeks of wrangling over Bruno Fernandes before meeting Sporting’s original asking price and a deadline day scramble involving bids for a reported eleven different players before finally bagging Odion Ighalo on loan at the eleventh hour.
The man expected to relieve the bungling Ed Woodward and Matt Judge is Antero Henrique, the former director of football at FC Porto and Paris St Germain.
The Independent claims that talks with Henrique are ‘advanced’ ‘with sources close to the 51-year-old believing a deal is near to being agreed’.
The Portuguese has a fine pedigree, having played a pivotal role in FC Porto becoming one of the most successful and profitable clubs in world football. After working his way up through the ranks at the Dragão, Henrique became sporting director in 2005, the start of a golden period of dominance for the club that saw them win seven league titles, four league and cup doubles and a treble (league, cup and Europa League) in eight years.
Henrique was then headhunted by PSG and oversaw the club’s transformation into something of a superpower, securing the acquisitions of the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
The bad news for United fans is that the paper claims that ‘regardless of the chosen candidate, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Matt Judge are expected to still be an integral part of the club’s process of signing new players.’
Oh dear. Woodward seems incapable of taking his hands off the wheel despite the fact that he has driven the bus into the river on more occasions than anyone can count.
But it is certainly a step in the right direction and it is promising that ‘United’s hierarchy sees the technical director role – a position they’ve resisted in the post – Sir Alex Ferguson era – as part of a longer-term vision encompassing all areas of the club as opposed to focusing solely on recruitment.’
It is also believed that United have a Plan B – preferred by some of the club’s directors – of Red Bull Leipzig’s Ralf Rangnick. In 2012, Rangnick was employed by Red Bull to mastermind the development of both Salzburg and the incipient Leipzig club. He moved his focus solely to Leipzig in 2015 and has guided them to becoming one of the top sides in German football.
Another potential candidate who appeared to be in contention, former Red Devil Jordi Cruyff, took himself out of the frame when he became manager of Ecuador’s national side in January.
This leaves Henrique and Rangnick as the clear front runners for the role, with the currently unemployed Henrique appearing to have won the race and nearing an appointment at Old Trafford.