Former midfielder Darren Fletcher has been named as the first ever technical director at Manchester United as part of a shake-up that has seen John Murtough promoted to the role of football director.
There has been years of talk and speculation regarding the absence of a director of football at Old Trafford, but the club have now announced two new roles that “will further strengthen the club’s football operations”.
Fletcher returned to Manchester United in January as part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s coaching set-up.
The 37-year-old will now step up to become technical director focusing on “a co-ordinated and long-term approach to player and squad development”, while adding “technical input and direction into all football and performance areas” by working closely with football director Murtough.
Having been with the club for seven years, most recently as head of football development, United say Murtough will “have overall leadership and responsibility for operations and strategy across all football functions”.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward 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.”
Manchester United said in a statement that football director Murtough “will work day-to-day with Ole to align recruitment and other strategies and to ensure that the first team has the best-in-class operational support it needs to succeed”.
The change is understood to be considered as evolution rather than revolution on the recruitment front, with the club saying: “Ole will continue his role in the recruitment process, supported by extensive scouting and data analytics functions that will continue to report to John.”
Matt Judge, who has the new title of director of football negotiations – albeit with unchanged responsibilities – will also report to football director Murtough.
The ex-Premier League head of elite performance has impressed with the work he has overseen across various areas of the club, including overhauling the academy and recruitment department, since joining under David Moyes in 2014.
“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,” Murtough said.
“It’s a privilege to be part of that process, and an honour to lead Manchester United’s football department, working alongside Ole, Casey (Stoney) and so many other truly outstanding staff all dedicated to delivering success to this club.”
Fletcher has had a close look at the way things operate in recent months and knows what it takes to succeed at Manchester United, where the academy graduate won five Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.
“It is great to be back with the club and I am delighted to be taking on this new role,” he said.
“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.”