John Murtough’s appointment as Director of Football of Manchester United is already starting to look like the appointment of the goat to Jurassic Park.
United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward has come under fierce criticism in recent years for not employing a football man in the sporting director role and for mismanaging, botching and manhandling just about every transfer the club has attempted.
Murtough’s appointment has immediately given the media and fans a new target for their frustrations and some welcome breathing space for Woodward, who still retains all the power to make all transfer and contract decisions along with controlling shareholder Joel Glazer.
And so it begins, with the tabloids leading this morning with a story about how Murtough made a mistake in 2018 that led to United losing Erling Haaland.
‘A misunderstanding cost United the chance of landing the teenager,’ reported The Mirror in February.
‘It had been arranged for a United representative to ring Haaland’s agent Jim Solbakken at 9am and finalise a deal worth £3million plus add ons.
‘Molde believed it would be 9am Norwegian time but when the call came through it was then 10am in Scandinavia who were an hour ahead in the time zones.
‘By then the club had agreed a deal with Red Bull Salzburg who had rung at the agreed time.’
That original story did not attribute the mistake to any particular individual, but yesterday Murtough was outed as the culprit by Football Insider.
‘A source involved in the deal has told Football Insider that it was Murtough who had been charged with making the call that day to Solbakken,’ the outlet claims.
‘His gaffe that day has not stopped him landing a plum new job.’
Football Insider, an internet-based outlet that claims scoops from sources within Premier League clubs, would not be considered high on the rumour reliability scale, but that has not stopped the story spreading like wildfire through the British media.
Murtough, the lightning rod, takes his first hit for the team.
You cannot help but think there is a lot more public humiliation to come for the likeable man who has done tremendous work in helping to establish United’s women’s team and overhauling the Academy to make it one of the best in the world.
Who was the ‘insider’ who leaked Murtough’s name to the name-and-shame outlet? Can you account for your whereabouts on the day in question, Mr Woodward?