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Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are serious about Manchester United, this is why



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After a long battle against the Glazer ownership, fans of Manchester United can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Last Tuesday afternoon’s official announcement of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s 27.7% investment in Manchester United, becoming the club’s largest shareholder, signals a new era for the club. All early signs indicate it can be an incredibly productive one.

As part of the deal, Ratcliffe has been granted sporting control and has wasted no time laying the foundations for a better sporting future at the club. He has brought along INEOS’ Director of Sport, Sir David Brailsford, and ex-Juventus and PSG chief Jean-Claude Blanc as board members. He has since poached former Barcelona executive Omar Berrada from rivals Manchester City, where he was serving as City Football Group’s Chief Football Operations Officer.

There is talk of Dan Ashworth being brought in as the club’s new Director of Football, with the Englishman recently announcing that he will be leaving Newcastle United, having helped to oversee a rebuild there, and links to recruitment experts to work alongside him are aplenty.

Many will pose the argument that it’s what happens on the pitch that matters. Correct, but what happens on the pitch is created behind the scenes. In football, success starts from the top, and for a long time, the uppermost branches of the Manchester United tree have been dripping poison, killing everything all the way down to the roots.

The lack of a real identity has been possibly the root of the problem at United since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. For all the talk of the ‘United Way’, not a lot has been seen of it. The club has been a damaged shell of what it was at its peak because there was no guidance system within that shell to stop it from being crushed.

Ratcliffe stated last week that they – INEOS – would be the ones to set the vision and this is already one of the biggest steps United have taken in over a decade. Since Sir Alex, the club have had numerous managers, all with different ideas, and it has resulted in expensive mistakes and a squad with a confusing mix of profiles. By having a vision laid out at the top, the coaching department at the club will see less variance and more universal players will be signed rather than specific ones, able to thrive under various coaches aside from tactical differences.

It is not just these departments that INEOS are ready to overhaul. The sports science and medical departments are likely to be overhauled at Carrington, and these have been problematic for some time. United’s injury issues have been raising questions for a long time now, and this season in particular, there has been a concerningly high number of non-contact muscle injuries sustained by players in training – something that has contributed to the derailment of United’s season.

INEOS have invested in these areas at their other clubs, OGC Nice and FC Lausanne, and it is expected that a lot of money will go into overhauling this at Manchester United, with an improvement in physical performance, conditioning, and rehabbing being a fundamental requirement of any on-pitch rebuild.

The money is key, and it is perhaps the biggest indicator of Sir Jim’s intentions as a shareholder. For a man who prides himself on being a smart businessman – famously criticising United’s financial dealings in 2019 – and at around £1.25 billion, a figure which includes a £237m investment pledge, he is paying well over the odds for his stake in Manchester United when looking at it relative to market value.

Yet the Englishman has made his intentions clear all along, this is not a vanity project. He is not putting this money up for no reason, there is a clear determination to make good on his investment and see his boyhood club return to the pinnacle of world football and his early actions have sent a message to the footballing world that he will do whatever is needed to put Manchester United back here.

Already Sir Jim and Sir Dave Brailsford have been more present around the club than the Glazers ever were, conducting an internal audit of the facilities, meeting fans, and attending games. Brailsford and Jean-Claude Blanc were seen together watching the club’s 2-0 victory away at Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup before INEOS’ deal had even been ratified.

A partial takeover may not be ideal, but it is a start and the first step towards removing the Glazers from Manchester United for good. Whilst his finances facilitate that on the business side, it is Ratcliffe’s decisions that will remove the stains they have left on the sporting side, and so far, he is cleaning up nicely.