Paul Mitchell, the man to save United

It’s not a stretch to say that a sporting director is more important at a club than a football manager. As a sporting director, you control the brand of football at the club, who the team targets, and the overarching philosophy that every manager must follow.

Mitchell has previous experience at MK Dons, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, RB Leipzig and AS Monaco. It’s clear the sort of control he likes to have and the strategy he sets out.

“At Southampton and Spurs, it wasn’t only about recruiting from outside either, but also creating those lines of communication within the club that ensured internal academy players could progress,” said David Webb, former scout at Southampton, when he spoke to The Athletic.

“He’s very good at getting clarity early: what is the project? What is it we’re looking to achieve? What is the club’s vision and philosophy?, their DNA if you like. And then he knits it all together.”

This should excite the United fanbase because for years the Old Trafford club have not had joined-up thinking or a nailed-down philosophy since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club.

The club jumps from one managerial playstyle to the next rather than having a succession plan in place for their manager if things go awry.

Mitchell, during his time at Southampton and Tottenham, formed a very close relationship with current Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino.

The hope will be that the 43-year-old can form a similar relationship with Ten Hag.

“I feel very disappointed with his decision. It’s his personal choice,” Pochettino told talkSPORT when Mitchell left Spurs. “You know that we have a relationship from Southampton. I’m very disappointed but when someone makes a decision and it’s personal, what can I do?”

Mitchell’s top signings

Perhaps the most exciting facet of having Mitchell at the club is the contact book he brings as well as the signings he has made in the past that have gone on to do great things.

Dele Alli arrived at Tottenham from MK Dons for £5 million and nearly helped Spurs to win a Premier League title. Heung-Min Son was another cheap arrival too. Sadio Mane arrived from RB Salzburg to Southampton for £10 million, he then went on to win the league title with Liverpool.

Even at AS Monaco, Brazilian right-back Vanderson, who has been linked with a move to Old Trafford, was discovered by Mitchell.

The most important remit for Mitchell is to ensure that every aspect of the club’s recruitment strategy is singing from the same hymn sheet. If Ten Hag and the 43-year-old hit it off, this could be a very exciting time for the club.


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