David Gill, the revered former chief executive of Manchester United, has revealed the three best signings he oversaw during his time at Old Trafford.
Gill joined the club in 1997 as a finance director. He was promoted to deputy executive in 2000, before being offered the chief executive role in 2003, following the departure of Peter Kenyon to Chelsea. He remained in this position at Old Trafford until 2013, when he decided to step down at the same as Sir Alex Ferguson.
In this decade as chief executive, Gill helped oversee one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.
Speaking to Rio Ferdinand on the FIVE YouTube channel, Gill gave a comprehensive and refreshingly candid interview, covering a breadth of topics from this time in his life.
The executive spoke on the club’s new co-owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and provided insight into where the INEOS revolution needs to begin. He offered advice for the club’s new chief executive – Omar Berrada – for how to tackle the role.
The former executive relayed his personal experiences working with interesting personalities at United, including Gary Neville, Sir Alex and even Tottenham Hotspur’s Daniel Levy.
One of the more surprising perspectives Gill offered, however, was in response to the a question concerning the three signings he actioned during his decade at United, which he felt had the biggest impact on the club.
Despite signing Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra in the same January window in 2006, for a combined fee of around £12.5 million, Gill could not seem to settle on either defender as one of his best signings.
The executive did pay tribute to both players but, instead, picked Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick as his first and second choice, before eventually settling on Edwin van der Sar as his third candidate, referencing the Dutchman’s “importance to the club.”
While Rooney is a self-explanatory choice, Carrick and Van der Sar are perhaps a little more surprising from the long list of excellent players the Gill signed.
The executive believes Carrick “brought” a huge amount to the club, functioning as a pillar in midfield for over a decade. There were complaints from the fanbase early in the midfielder’s tenure at Old Trafford, as he had essentially replaced the indomitable Roy Keane at the heart of the team.
But it’s a testament to the intelligence and quality Carrick demonstrated at United that he quickly helped fans forget about the Irish midfielder. It’s also an indictment on the state of the England coaching staff in this period that he did not receive more caps at international level.
Gill also underscored how important the signing of Van der Sar was after the club’s long-standing struggles to “replace Peter [Schmeichel].” United signed the Dutch goalkeeper from Fulham for around £2 million in June 2005; a price which proved an absolute bargain given the success that flowed after his purchase.
Fans would be forgiven for having immediately jumped to Cristiano Ronaldo’s signing from Sporting for a bargain £12.2 million as a potential winner here, but the Ballon d’Or winner relocated to Old Trafford in August 2003 – a month before Gill was promoted to chief executive.
It’s hard to imagine the executive not wanting to take full credit for such a fantastic transfer if he could!