Friday, July 19, 2024

Former Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward in contention for Man Utd role

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Former Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward is a surprise contender for the role at Manchester United.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe finally secured a 25 per cent stake in the Old Trafford club on Sunday, handed full control of football operations with overhauling United’s recruitment department an immediate priority.

A number of figures have been considered for the sporting director role at United including Newcastle United’s Dan Ashworth and Dougie Freeman of Crystal Palace.

The Telegraph report Ward is also in contention. The 42-year-old spent 11 years at Liverpool, initially joining as their European scouting manager for Spain and Portugal.

In December 2020 he was promoted to the role of assistant sporting director, handed the top job following Michael Edwards’ departure. Ward’s decision to leave Anfield at the end of last season shocked the club, having overseen the signings of Luis Diaz and Darin Nunez.

Ward turned down an offer to become director of football at Ajax last summer but has been in no rush to return to football.

John Murtough, who has been United’s football director in 2021, is unlikely to be kept on his current role as part of the imminent changes but could stay on in a different position.

Newcastle sporting director Ashworth is reportedly Ratcliffe’s top choice. The 52-year-old was handed the role at St James’ Park just over a year ago after impressive spells as the FA’s director of elite development and Brighton’s technical director.

Since arriving on Tyneside, he has played a vital role in Newcastle’s development, credited with overseeing moves for Kieran Trippier, Alexander Isak, Anthony Gordon and others.

But Magpies boss Eddie Howe however is convinced Ashworth remains committed to the project at Newcastle.

‘Of course I’ve spoken to Dan but not necessarily about that,’ Howe said.

‘It’s very difficult to comment on speculation, whether that be a player or someone in Dan’s position. I’ve got no doubt that Dan is here for the long term but it’s probably a question for Dan rather than me.

‘I think whenever someone is in the role of importance that Dan is, hugely important and he’s done a really good job in helping us in loads of different ways, building departments, the training ground, he’s connected with everything that goes on in terms of the decision making at the football club.

‘He’s hugely important and has been a really calming influence behind the scenes, his vast experience has really helped.’

 

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