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Exclusive: How Jason Wilcox will shape Manchester United’s academy under INEOS



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Credit: Manchester City

Manchester United are set to appoint Jason Wilcox as the club’s new technical director, who had a big hand in Manchester City’s academy.

Manchester City‘s academy has produced several high-class talents over the last decade, with the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, and Cole Parmer excelling at the Etihad or elsewhere during the early years of their careers.

A man who dealt with all these players and was a huge reason for the club’s success was Jason Wilcox, the former director of the academy. He is now set to join Manchester United as the new technical director under INEOS.

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Wilcox has most recently held a post as Southampton’s director of football for the last nine months and has been linked with Liverpool, but has reportedly resigned to aid his now-pending move to Old Trafford.

Speaking exclusively to UtdDistrict, Senior Southampton reporter for the Daily Echo Alfie House has highlighted the impact that Wilcox has made at St. Mary’s during his time there and what this will mean for United going forward.

“The one thing that you can see that’s happened already, and this is from the first team down to even the under-18s, under-16s, is that they do play pretty much exactly the same way,” House explained when asked what Wilcox has done with the academy.

“They play this 4-3-3 with a number nine that sort of drops into midfield to spin balls off and turn. You’ve got wingers making constant runs, full-backs are coming into the middle of the pitch, inverting. They’re all doing that in every age group.”

Speaking further, House explained how Wilcox has impacted not only the playing style but also the back-room staff surrounding the academy players.

“Wilcox has hired a new academy director. He’s hired an academy head of recruitment. He’s hired an under-21s head coach. He’s hired an under-21s assistant coach. He’s hired an under-18s head coach. It’s all been completely revamped from last season. And a couple of those have come from Man City.

“A couple of those have come from Swansea, where Russell Martin was. So he’s brought in a whole new image. They’ve changed it completely from his 4-2-2-2 playbook, which you may have heard of. Southampton had a playbook that was designed by Ralph Hasenhüttl and Matt Crocker, which was the 4-2-2-2. So they’ve changed that completely.

“And obviously, he’s done all of that alongside hiring a new first-team head of recruitment, a new first-team manager, first-team backroom staff. So he’s done all of that in one summer. But you can see the alignment in terms of the way they play.”

Wilcox’s impact at United may be slightly different to what he was able to do at Southampton because he will be working for others above him, House explained. But, it must be considered that this will not be a new challenge for him, as he had done so previously.

“I suppose coming to Manchester United, it would be very different because he’s not going to be designing the play style in his image. He’s going to be working for people above him.

“But I suppose he’s done that for Man City for 11 years, working from coach to academy director. He’s worked under people before. So it will be interesting to see what his role is at United if it happens.”

One connection that must not be forgotten is that Wilcox will have worked with United’s new CEO, Omar Berrada, while the pair were at City. Thus, he will be able to fit seamlessly into the setup at Old Trafford once he joins.

Considering his previous roles, it feels likely that he will help adjust United’s academy to make sure all levels, from the juniors to the first team, are playing in similar styles and systems, just like he has done at Southampton. He will also make sure that all the right people are in place.

There is still debate surrounding when Wilcox will be able to join United. There have been reports that Southampton are “angry” at the way in which the club have gone about grabbing Wilcox from their grasp.

However, sources have told UtdDistrict that United have been respectful and followed the correct processes by making an official approach to Southampton.

It is also understood that they have agreed to pay Southampton the equivalent of a full year of his salary, despite his only being with them for nine months. There is hope for a reasonable and amicable outcome for all parties.