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Other SportsNeville: Berrada appointment the start of 'serious' Manchester United project

Neville: Berrada appointment the start of ‘serious’ Manchester United project

Manchester United great Gary Neville believes the arrival of new chief executive Omar Berrada could herald the start of a “more serious football project” at Old Trafford.

On Saturday, United confirmed Berrada would leave his role as chief football operations officer with the City Football Group to succeed Richard Arnold as the Red Devils’ chief executive.

Berrada – who made his name in a variety of positions with Barcelona and Manchester City – is set to begin his new role at the end of this season.

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His appointment has been hailed as a major coup for United, who are set to embark on a rebuild after INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe agreed to purchase a 25 per cent stake in the club, in a deal which will see him handed full control of United’s football operations when Premier League approval is granted.

Neville, who has been a steadfast critic of United’s direction under the Glazer family, is encouraged by the appointment and sees it as a solid start to the Ratcliffe era.

“This looks like the start of what should be a much more serious football project at the club, whereby the football side gets treated equally to the business side,” he said on The Gary Neville Podcast for Sky Sports.

“If he can get the people right, the culture right, and get those two other appointments underneath him right – the sporting director and head of recruitment – they are the main exposure points for the owner of a football club.

“They need to get these three appointments right, and it looks like a very solid start.

“They’ve not had someone who has operated in football for a long time, and that’s really important, but it’s a big task, and all eyes are going to be on him.

“It looks like United are making more sound decisions and are on the right track and that can only be a positive. Jim Ratcliffe was not going to come in and not disrupt things. The disruption has started pretty quickly.”

With United being criticised over a series of expensive, ineffective signings in recent years, Neville says getting other football appointments right will be key if the Ratcliffe regime is to succeed.

“They hadn’t got a CEO, because Richard Arnold stepped down. They haven’t got a sporting director, and they haven’t got a notable head of recruitment,” Neville said.

“Those are three roles where owners are most exposed, with the money that gets spent on players, the revenues that get driven. It’s part of what I would imagine is a triangle of appointments I’d expect to see in the next few months.”

Neville was particularly pleased with the way in which the appointment came about, with reports that Berrada was leaving the City Football Group emerging mere hours before United made his move across Manchester official.

“We don’t quite know what’s gone on at City. He’s probably two or three down the chain at City and wanted to see a pathway to the top, and maybe that wasn’t there,” Neville said of Berrada.

“It’s a very good signing by Manchester United. What I did like about it is that it was stealth, in the sense it wasn’t a massive build-up over a few months, it just happened quickly. I like that.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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