Senior staff at Manchester United are concerned about their future at Old Trafford following John Murtough's resignation as director of football, as the club undergoes changes led by Sir Jim Ratcliffe.


John Murtough has stepped down as Manchester United’s football director, leaving senior staff fretting over their futures at the club under new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe. 

Murtough’s exit was confirmed on Tuesday and is no surprise given United’s move to install Dan Ashworth as the new director of football once they have agreed compensation with Newcastle. 

The club are also in discussions with Southampton to take Jason Wilcox as the new technical director, replacing Darren Fletcher who is still wanted by United in a new role. 

Praising the 50-year-old’s contribution over more than a decade at United, Ratcliffe said: ‘We want to thank John for his loyal service over many years, and for his support and integrity during this period of transition.’ 

Man United football director John Murtough (seen right) has stepped down from his role

Man United football director John Murtough (seen right) has stepped down from his role

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is setting about completely overhauling Man United's football operations team

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is setting about completely overhauling Man United’s football operations team

Murtough stepped up to become United’s first football director in 2021 and oversaw the spending of more than £500million on new signings, but recruitment was one of the first areas Ineos wanted to improve following Ratcliffe’s investment.

He was also heavily involved in a regeneration of United’s academy, which led to the breakthrough of young stars like Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, as well as the launch of a women’s team.

United co-chairman Joel Glazer said: ‘After 11 years of tireless work for the club, John has mutually agreed with us that now is the right time to step aside and allow the new football leadership structure to be put in place.’

Murtough’s deputy Andy O’Boyle, director of player negotiations Matt Hargreaves, director of football operations David Harrison and academy head Nick Cox will lead the football operation under Ineos sporting director Sir Dave Brailsford until Ashworth and Wilcox are in place.

However, a number of senior figures are sweating over their long-term futures with Ashworth expected to implement changes of his own when he arrives in the summer.

Brailsford has been assessing all departments for months, and Ratcliffe recently appointed consultancy firm Interpath to cut costs which will inevitably lead to job losses. 

Murtough arrived under Moyes, having worked together at Everton, and started out as United’s academy manager.

In 2016 he became the director of development and in 2021 he was picked by Ed Woodward to become director of football.

The 53-year-old has since been tasked with overseeing transfers and recruitment alongside two permanent managers – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Erik ten Hag.

Only last month, Murtough and director of football negotiations Matt Hargreaves were filmed in Barcelona for what sources described as routine meetings ahead of the transfer window.

Murtough follows CEO Richard Arnold (pictured) out the door, after he left back in November

Murtough follows CEO Richard Arnold (pictured) out the door, after he left back in November

Joel Glazer (right), co-chairman of Manchester United, thanked Murtough for his decade-long tenure at Old Trafford and insisted he will 'always be welcome back as a friend of the club'

Joel Glazer (right), co-chairman of Manchester United, thanked Murtough for his decade-long tenure at Old Trafford and insisted he will ‘always be welcome back as a friend of the club’

He also went over to Saudi Arabia to check in on interest of star players such as Casemiro.

There had been concerns over Murtough’s future since Ratcliffe sealed his £1.3billion minority stake in the club, with sources indicating a preference among Ineos to have a new figurehead for their own era.

Wilcox, along with Ashworth, are being targeted with a view to the recruitment department becoming a collaborative effort, with a greater emphasis on data.

The onus will now be on Sir Dave Brailsford, who has based himself at the club’s Carrington training ground to undertake most of his work thus far, and Ratcliffe to land Wilcox and Ashworth and prevent both cases becoming drawn out sagas.

Earlier this month United made a formal offer to meet Wilcox’s buy-out clause at Southampton in an attempt to ensure he would be in place to mastermind this summer’s transfer window at Old Trafford.

Mail Sport reported that United have agreed to pay Southampton 12 months of Wilcox’s wages as compensation, but the Championship club are understood to be holding out for a bigger package and a deal is still yet to be agreed.

Wilcox has kept a low profile at Southampton since news of United’s interest first emerged in February, but, unlike Ashworth with Newcastle, he has not been placed on formal gardening leave.

Man United made a formal approach to bring in Southampton director of football Jason Wilcox

Man United made a formal approach to bring in Southampton director of football Jason Wilcox

Dan Ashworth, who has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle, is also being pursued

Dan Ashworth, who has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle, is also being pursued 

The 52-year-old only joined the club last summer after spending 11 years working at Man City in various junior squads, with his last six years spent as academy director overseeing the development of stars such as Phil Foden, Rico Lewis, Oscar Bobb and Cole Palmer .

With Newcastle refusing to drop their demands for £20m in compensation to secure the release of Ashworth, that has reached an impasse heading into the final weeks of the season.

Ratcliffe is acutely aware of how much work is needed to turn United from the ailing team they are right now, with the likelihood of no Champions League football next season, to title contenders once more. 

Speaking to Geraint Thomas on his Cycling Club podcast, Ratcliffe went into detail over the magnitude of the task he has in front of him, as he opened up on Ineos’ plans with the club.

He said: ‘It’s not a light switch, it’s a much longer road to travel because there are so many aspects of that club and game you need to get right.’

Ratcliffe went onto say that incoming chief executive Berrada will become a ‘big part of the trio’ consisting of himself and Brailsford when he starts his new role at Old Trafford – and play a key role in helping them try and turn their fortunes around. 

He said: ‘There’s a group of us that are involved but the two people who are most focused on it will be Dave and myself in terms of how we resolve it all.

Omar Berrada (right) will play a key role as Manchester United's new chief executive, when his period of gardening leave comes to an end

Omar Berrada (right) will play a key role as Manchester United’s new chief executive, when his period of gardening leave comes to an end

Ratcliffe previously outlined how it would be a 'big part' of Sir Dave Brailsford's job to get the 'right people in the right place' in order to get the right organisational structure at Old Trafford

Ratcliffe previously outlined how it would be a ‘big part’ of Sir Dave Brailsford’s job to get the ‘right people in the right place’ in order to get the right organisational structure at Old Trafford

‘We’ve now got Omar who is still on gardening leave but he will become a big part of the trio when he settles in. 

‘He will be the chief executive and then Dave and myself will have a daily chat. It’s never a short chat with Dave.’

Ratcliffe added:  You have to believe with Manchester United that if we get all the details right, and all the right people in the right boxes doing the right things that sporting elite environment, it’s driven, it’s intense, you’ve got real competitive atmosphere.’

Meanwhile, Scott McTominay is set to be out for between two and three weeks after injuring his knee in last week’s defeat at Chelsea. It means that McTominay is a doubt for the FA Cup semi-final against Coventry at Wembley a week on Sunday. 



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