The INEOS group are beginning preparations to enact a series of “brutal” changes at Old Trafford.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority stake offer to co-own Manchester United is still awaiting ratification from the Premier League, but his INEOS sporting team have already begun a comprehensive audit of the processes and structures in place at the club.
Ratcliffe’s bid is expected to be approved sometime in February, which is when the findings of this audit will begin to be implemented. The Manchester Evening News contends there will be “sweeping changes” at Old Trafford as a result, with a source at the club suggesting they could be “brutal.”
Sir Dave Brailsford is leading the auditing process, acting as Ratcliffe’s eyes and ears in the early stages of the INEOS revolution. He is thought to want to instil a mentality of Old Trafford being the “elite of the elite” throughout the club.
As part of this inquest, the former British cycling director is “sounding out” former staff from the club in an effort to know exactly where, what and who to focus on first.
One area the INEOS group are believed to have already identified as a source of inefficiency is the sheer number of staff at the club. The number of people on the payroll, across the myriad departments at United, increased to 1112 this year. This growth was due to major investment in the commercial and digital departments of the operation.
Sources at the club are “privately conceding they are overstaffed” in certain areas, however.
INEOS are known for preferring a “lean sporting operation…sustained by a relatively small number of staff” and one of the first steps in these “brutal” changes may be to significantly reduce the number of employees at the club.
Undoubtedly, one employee this brutal approach should be aimed at is football director John Murtough.
Brailsford is believed to be prioritising a new sporing director and a head of recruitment as two new additions to the executive branch at Old Trafford. A club source revealed in December the incumbent Murtough’s future was “in the balance.”
The Manchester Evening News believe INEOS may be “open to retaining Murtough in a more administrative role” with the football director reported to have “never envisaged his role at United to centre on recruitment.”
Sources close to Murtough indicate he feels his involvement in transfers has been “limited” as Erik ten Hag’s preferences have directed the club’s choices in the market. The fact six of the Dutchman’s permanent additions have previously played in the Eredivisie buttresses this point.
It is remarkable that the man tasked with leading United’s recruitment over the last two summers was; a) never planning on fulfilling the role he agreed to fulfil; and b) limited in his involvement in a process he was leading. This has led to nearly half a billion pounds being spent on decisions he did not even seem to agree with.
Yet it appears as if Murtough may survive. It’s no wonder figures at the club indicate internal politics to be one of the director’s strongest attributes.
The first person the INEOS sporting team should be directing their brutality towards is Murtough. He’s a symbol of the failings of the past and either incompetent or incapable in the role he’s been paid handsomely by the club to fill.
If the dressing room is in desperate need of an overhaul, so too is the board room which produced it. Get rid.