Following Richard Arnold’s exit from Manchester United on Wednesday, a changing of the guard is in the offing at Old Trafford.
After 16 years of service at United, Arnold has left his post as chief executive ahead of the Ineos Group’s expected arrival. The chemical giant, led by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, are understood to be on the cusp of wrapping up a deal to secure a 25 per cent stake in the club.
Ratcliffe, as reported by the Manchester Evening News last week, has held virtual meetings with co-chairman Joel Glazer. They are understood to have discussed potential changes to the club’s structure, including possible personnel changes, which could result in football director John Murtough also departing.
With big changes to the current landscape of the off-field structure set to feature high up on Ratcliffe’s to-do list, there has been an increase in speculation linking former AS Monaco sporting director Paul Mitchell with Old Trafford. Mitchell, 42, has also previously worked at Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur, where he served as Head of Recruitment.
Over the years, Mitchell has established himself as something of a recruitment expert, earning global plaudits for his work. Liverpool, according to reports, attempted to lure him to Anfield earlier this year.
With such a blossoming reputation and CV to show off, it is hardly surprising that Ratcliffe, according to a report issued by The Telegraph last month, is ‘keen’ to install a sporting director at Old Trafford, with Mitchell said to be the ‘frontrunner’ for the position. Arnold’s exit earlier this week has only increased speculation that there could be a major shake-up to the off-field team overseeing the club’s strategy.
Should Ratcliffe get Ineos’ intended deal over the line, one of his biggest jobs will be to improve the club’s culture and create a new recruitment model. Mitchell has been cited as a man who could help the club increase their success levels on that front.
But for that to happen, Mitchell, who grew up in Greater Manchester, has already outlined why a long-term vision is so important for United to make progress.
Speaking to Sky Sports in July 2022, Mitchell said: “It is sometimes hard to comment when you’re not in the internal and always understanding the context. I use that word a lot because I think context is important to measure what Manchester United‘s current situation is, but I think they do need to get to the point of really putting down what Manchester United needs to be in the modern game.
“We are a long time from the Sir Alex Ferguson era. Erik ten Hag is a top coach from Ajax, but they need a top blueprint not only for now but for the next five years, and work towards that, and sometimes on that journey there are hard moments when you don’t get the right results, even though you’re doing the right things.
“You have to know that, over that period, the consistency of the decision-making will yield a good end result. I think we’ve seen that both Manchester City and Liverpool, that when you adopt that long-term strategy you can get real consistency and sustainable success.
“I think that’s the biggest thing for Manchester United; putting down their identity of what they want to be today, but most crucially what they want to be in five years’ time, and where they want to be, and what they want to look like; from everything from young players, to the style of play, to the whole culture peace in Manchester United.”