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Sir Jim Ratcliffe steps up Man Utd revolution with four-pronged structural overhaul

Jason Wilcox at a Championship game between West Brom and Southampton

Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to appoint a technical director and a performance director as Manchester United’s new kingpin pushes ahead with his overhaul of the club’s football operations.

Jason Wilcox, the highly regarded Southampton sporting director who was formerly Manchester City’s academy chief, is a leading contender for one of the roles.

United have appointed Omar Berrada as chief executive and Dan Ashworth is expected to follow as sporting director once a compensation package is agreed with Newcastle.

But Ratcliffe and his Ineos team, led by Sir Dave Brailsford, are also looking to bring in a technical director and a performance director who would report into Ashworth in a four-pronged approach to revamping the senior football set-up at Old Trafford.

It is thought a technical director would be a central figure in recruitment with Ashworth while any performance director role would likely have a broader remit across a number of areas such as sports science, medical, strength and conditioning, nutrition and effectively lead on the club’s physical and psychological provision.

Although nothing is set in stone at this stage, sources indicated such a structure is considered “attractive” to Ineos and that they are continuing to work through their options as Brailsford conducts a thorough audit of the existing football operation. “We just need to find the right people,” the source added.

Wilcox, who worked with Berrada at City, is greatly admired although United have distanced themselves from a move for the Crystal Palace sporting director Dougie Freedman.

In an ideal world, United would have their overhauled structure fully in place before the transfer window opens ahead of another critical summer but that may not be possible if all their targets are not available to start promptly.

Berrada is due to formally commence his role in the summer once he has completed a period of gardening leave after quitting rivals Manchester City in January, where he served as chief operations officer and was heavily involved in recruitment with director of football Txiki Begiristain.

Ashworth is currently on gardening leave with a potential start date at Old Trafford part of the discussions with Newcastle as they seek to agree a compensation package that suits all parties.

Newcastle were demanding £20 million in compensation, which Ratcliffe has described as a “bit silly”. He also said it was “completely absurd” to expect Ashworth would be prevented from working for a rival club for another 18 months.

Sources have pointed out how Newcastle only paid around £2 million in compensation to extract Ashworth from Brighton in February 2022 and that the former Football Association director of elite development was formally working for the Tyneside club less than four months later.

Ineos are determined to improve United’s dire recruitment record over the past decade, which they believe has been borne of not having the right football structure in place and severely held the team and club back on the pitch.

It remains to be seen if United’s existing football director John Murtough is offered a redefined role and whether he would accept as much, although Murtough has been assisting the transition under Ineos.

There is thought to be a willingness to keep Darren Fletcher at the club but recognition from all sides that his current title of technical director is misleading and does not reflect his role as a coach and academy first team liaison.

A number of EFL clubs have previously shown an interest in speaking to Fletcher for the role of manager but he has remained committed to United under manager Erik ten Hag.

The biggest decision Ineos and their new hires will have to make in the coming months revolves around the future of Ten Hag, whose position is in doubt.

Reports this week suggested United’s players are increasingly doubtful the Dutchman will still be in charge next season.

United’s poor performance and worrying set-up in the 2-1 defeat at home to Fulham is thought to have been dimly received and the mood was not improved on Sunday when Ten Hag’s side were comprehensively outclassed by City en route to their 11th league loss of a miserable campaign.

United, who have lost 16 of 38 matches in all competitions this season and face Everton at Old Trafford on Saturday, currently trail fourth-placed Aston Villa by 11 points and are at risk of missing out on Champions League qualification.

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