Manchester United are to appoint former midfielder Darren Fletcher as the club's new technical director with John Murtough to be named football director.
Fletcher needs little introduction to United fans. He spent 20 years with the club as a player after coming through the Academy to make over 340 first-team appearances between 2003 and 2015, winning five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups, theChampions League and the Fifa Club World Cup.
The former Scotland midfielder has been part of the first-team coaching setup since January, watching games from high up in the stands for a different view from the coaches. A self-confessed football geek who watches games around the world, Fletcher is fascinated with tactics and wishes that he could simply enjoy games as a fan rather than studying patterns of play.
Fletcher has lived in Manchester with his family and their dog all of his adult life. He returned to the club because manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed help during the coronavirus pandemic. The pair have an excellent relationship and Fletcher made a superb impression on a day-to-day basis working at the Carrington training ground.
"It is great to be back with the club and I am delighted to be taking on this new role," said Fletcher, who can help identify and communicate with potential signings. "We are moving in the right direction and I am looking forward to continuing to work with Ole and his coaching team, and now with John as the football director, to help bring young players through and further develop the football side of the club. It's fantastic to see that all the staff here are driving Manchester United forward towards a new era of success."
Murtough, a Mancunian United fan who has been at the club since 2013, will have overall leadership and responsibility for operations and strategy across all football functions. He has worked in football for 23 years and was most recently the club's head of football development.
Murtough has been working closely with Solskjaer and the rest of the footballing staff creating the structures, processes and culture to deliver success on the pitch. United’s academy and recruitment department has been changed in the past five years. Previously underfunded, it is now thriving.
'Hugely important appointments'
Fletcher will work closely with Murtough to add technical input and direction into all football and performance areas. He will focus on a co-ordinated and long-term approach to player and squad development, helping maintain the integral link between the Academy and the first team.
As football director, Murtough will work day-to-day with Solskjaer to align recruitment and other strategies and to ensure that the first team has the best-in-class operational support it needs to succeed.
Solskjaer will continue his role in the recruitment process, supported by extensive scouting and data analytics functions that will continue to report to Murtough. Matt Judge, with a new title of director of football negotiations and will continue to negotiate transfers.
“This is such an exciting time for everyone at Manchester United with the first team, Academy and Women’s team all performing strongly, and plenty of development still to come,” said Murtough. “It’s a privilege to be part of that process, and an honour to lead Manchester United’s football department, working alongside Ole, Casey and so many other truly outstanding staff all dedicated to delivering success to this club.”
Ed Woodward, Manchester United executive vice-chairman, said: “These are hugely important appointments that reinforce the progress we have been making as a club in recent years in our relentless pursuit of success.
“We have already made great strides forward in the way we run our football operations, and the benefits are visible in the resurgent pipeline of Academy talent reaching the first team and through our improved recruitment record. John has been integral to our progress in these areas and his deep understanding of development ensures the club’s traditions of bringing young players through from Academy to first team will continue. This new position is a natural evolution that harnesses his leadership qualities and his years of experience in the game.
“Darren’s stellar achievements as a player and his own journey from Academy to Premier League and Champions League winner means he naturally commands respect and understands this vital part of the club’s DNA. In this new role, the first in our history, he will deliver technical advice across all aspects of the football department as well as contributing to the communication and delivery of our football philosophy across all areas of the club.
“I am delighted that John and Darren have accepted these roles and I look forward to the contribution they will make, together with Ole and the rest of the staff, as we build toward future success.”