Since 2013, Ed Woodward has been the man behind transfers for United. While he has made a few quality signings, like Bruno Fernandes, most dealings were blunders. The Sanchez flop (-$36 million loss), mishandling of Depay (-$19 million loss), and Lukaku mess (-$12 million loss) all came under the leadership -or lack thereof- from Woodward. Due to this, United is starting a search for a potential director of football. A DoF would cover transfers and provide a long-term plan for the club on the pitch, while Woodward could focus on the commercial side of United. The first noted target being Everton’s Marcel Brands.
Who is Marcel Brands?
The current Everton DoF started in the management side of football post his retirement from his playing career in 1998. For the following 7 years, Brands learned the ins and outs of being a DoF while at RKC Waalwijk. His performance landed him a job at AZ Alkmaar and later at PSV. Under his reigns, PSV won 3 league titles. He moved onto Everton in the summer of 2018. Brands is responsible for the signings of James Rodriguez, Richarlison, and Andre Gomes.
In addition to transfers made, Brands brought in Carlo Ancelotti to Everton in 2019. That managerial change gave new life to Everton and they started this season stronger than they have in any other year in recent memory. Brands provided Everton with vision and a path. United are hopeful that he could do the same at Old Trafford.
Amidst the rumors of Brands to United, Everton manager, Ancelotti said, “I think [Brands] is doing a fantastic job, he’s been at this club more than me. So I think it will be important for [Brands] to continue and to find a deal with [Everton].”
Simply put, United need a man in the transfer market who has a background in football. The best clubs in Europe have a DoF and United desperately need to follow suit. Even if United were to switch managers, a DoF would remain. Meaning, that the club would keep its long-term vision for the future. Ed Woodward is stronger suited for the commercial side of football, rather than the performances on the pitch.
Many former players, like Edwin van der Sar are leading clubs as their DoF with their football knowledge. Having someone who understands the game working in the transfer market ensures quality both on the pitch and off of it.
The Right Fit?
Marcel Brands might not be the perfect man to become United’s first DoF, but he is certainly qualified for the job. The success Brands had in the Eredivisie shows that he can add quality to a club. However, he has no background with United; He may not understand the United culture. Brands is ready for a big move, but maybe not United.
The other issue with Brands is that he loves the ‘big signing’ too much. Similarly, that issue caused Woodward to struggle in the market. Quality players are important, but Brands enjoys marquee signings even if they are not the best fit for his club. For example, he signed Moise Kean to Everton only to flop and go on loan the next season to PSG. However, the current board enjoys flair, so Brands might find himself with an offer from United in the coming seasons.
Written by CJ Szaz.