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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Forget the new manager – appointing Edwin van der Sar as CEO should be Man Utd’s priority

But Arnold, formerly United’s commercial director, has had little to no involvement in football operations at the club, at least until very recently as the handover looms, and whatever suspicions fans may hold, it is still an assumption to say he would not bring a fresh perspective.

Off the pitch, as well as on it, United look in real need of a clear, cohesive strategy that inspires progressive, joined up thinking and delivers results, and not just financially. Van der Sar is presiding over just that at Ajax: a well-run club on the commercial and football side with a respected and connected director of football, Marc Overmars, and an astute head coach in Erik ten Hag, who plays attacking, winning football while promoting youth.

There could be additional fringe benefits to drafting in someone not associated with the existing regime, too. The Glazers have demonstrated a desire to atone for their role as a ringleader in the failed European Super League plot. The owners are in talks with supporters about the creation of a fans’ share scheme and a fan advisory board, steps that could give the supporter base a greater say in how the club are run.

The appointment of Van der Sar or another respected external figure could help improve United’s tarnished image in the wider football world. Installing Arnold, as capable as he is, could give the impression of more of the same from the Glazers. Going down a different route, by contrast, may point to a club keen to build bridges, even if that is something Arnold himself may seek to do.

United fans, of course, will not hold their breath. The choice of a new chief executive already appears a fait accompli.  

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