Now with a new CEO from the other side of town, Manchester United will look to begin a new era and rise out of the doldrums that have been the past decade. But while fans are hopeful that Omar Berrada can turn things around, his work is certainly cut out for him.
Change in sports happens all the time, and fans of struggling teams are quick to project hope upon a “new era.” The Glazer family bought Manchester United in June of 2005, and it ushered in a new era that nobody wanted. The family’s reign over the club has seen highs in which it had no presence in and lows which are mostly its own fault.
Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world, and one of the most significant franchises across all sports. Their fan base is in the millions, and their name holds weight. But on and off the pitch, Man U has not resembled a big club in the past decade.
The last 10 years have seen the simultaneous decline of everything positive associated within Manchester United, and the rise of everything the club hates. While it suffers, its enemies prosper.
Manchester City have become what United used to be, the kings of England. City matched United’s biggest accomplishment with the continental treble in 2023, and to make matters worse, United were one of the teams that City stepped over to get it. Liverpool have solidified themselves as a massive threat these past six years, and if not for City, the Reds would have certainly knocked United off their perch a long time ago.
When it comes to the downfall, the main culprit circles back to one group, the Glazers. After legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, the club needed to find a way to navigate without its talismanic figure from over the past 26 seasons. He was no longer there to guide them and paper over the cracks. The curtains were pulled and now the Glazers had to show what they were made of.
In the decade since Fergie’s departure, it has become clear that they are constituted of nothing. The Theatre of Dreams has become one of horrors. Ten years of spending with no vision has brought back just four major trophies in return. The club is struggling financially and had to seek out help. Luckily, it has arrived in the form of Sir Jim Ratcliffe. A new era is set to begin.
The Arrival of Ratcliffe and INEOS
United fans got an early Christmas present with the Ratcliffe deal being signed. Upon Premier League approval, Ratcliffe will have 25% ownership of the club. Although Ratcliffe and his team have technically not started yet, their presence within the club has been felt. Sir Dave Brailsford, Ratcliffe’s right hand man, has been to every game since the deal. Brailsford is doing a multi-week audit of the club. They have also been involved in the loan deals this month, with specific clauses being added in the deal upon their request.
We have also seen a shakeup in the transfer and medical department with some figures within those departments leaving the club within the last month. And even more shakeups are expected.
While all those are important, INEOS have made their first big signing for United. The signing that makes a statement that this is a new era.
A New CEO
Manchester United’s next CEO already lived in the city. Omar Berrada, who was the City Football Group’s chief football operations officer since 2020 and with the club in various capacities since 2011, has switched over to the red side of Manchester.
United being able to steal one of the top guys from their rivals is a huge statement of intent from Ratcliffe. He had promised United fans ruthlessness, and this was a great first step.
Berrada will also have a board seat and will have significant input on commercial and football matters alongside INEOS. His success commercially cannot be understated, as he has overseen countless sponsorship deals at City. The reception amongst the fan base for this appointment has been positive and has given fans a new sense of hope for the future. While this season is essentially a write-off for United, fans can now have a more positive outlook towards the summer with Berrada and INEOS.
A Football-First CEO
Berrada at CEO means that Manchester United will have a football man in the role for the first time in over a decade. The position had been previously held by Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold, who were hired after being at the club already in different positions. United finally went out of their comfort zone and hired an outsider.
🗣️ Manchester United's new CEO Omar Berrada: “The commercial growth of the clubs is predicated or underpinned by success ON the pitch.
If you have a really good business strategy alongside it, then it just turbocharges the growth off the pitch.”
🗣️ Manchester United's old CEO… pic.twitter.com/SbPhxMbEzX
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) January 28, 2024
The clips of Berrada discussing transfer strategy went viral on X, and there were a few that should have United fans excited, especially the ones about signing the right players.
For United fans this means the world as the Red Devils have been synonymous with transfer flops over the past few years. Said flops are one of the major reasons United is in financial trouble, and Berrada has a huge task ahead of him to fix that.
One of the solutions for this is selling academy players. Berrada has been a massive factor of the academy overhaul at Manchester City. City have done a great job of maximizing value on their academy players, something United have struggled with. The club hopes Berrada can fix that with potential sales of the likes of Alvaro Fernandez, Scott McTominay, and Hannibal Mejbri.
Berrada’s involvement in high profile transfers such as Erling Haaland’s will be something United hope he can replicate, as plenty of those have fallen through for the club in the past decade.
While Berrada is a good appointment, the job is not yet finished for INEOS and United. The club still needs to appoint a director of football, and a head of recruitment. The club will also have a huge decision on their hands with current manager Erik ten Hag and his future. A new CEO and football structure may want to choose their own guy.
With United likely to have their worst Premier League campaign ever, this summer will be an important one to start the new rebuild. The planning for it should start now instead of waiting until the last minute. A successful summer will go a long way to showing fans this new group is different, and not like its predecessors. That this is a new era.