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United View: Is this the start of real change at Manchester United?

As Bob Dylan once sang, the times they are a-changing.

Whether he was talking about the civil rights movement or foreshadowing the restructuring of Manchester United’s sporting department is up for debate, but things are certainly moving in a positive direction at Old Trafford.

On Saturday night, it was announced that United had appointed Omar Berrada as their new CEO, causing fans to rejoice before quickly turning to Google to find out who he is. So just who is the new Chief Executive at Old Trafford?

For over three years, he’s been the Chief Football Operations Officer at the City Football Group and had several other roles before rising the ranks at Manchester City. Before that, he was he was head of sponsorship at Barcelona.

For Manchester United, this is significant as it’s an external appointment of someone with experience working in football. Compare that to Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold who were both CEO at United and also had no previous experience running a football club.

Whilst this is a step up for Berrada, by all accounts he is well respected in the industry, with many suggesting he could have taken over from City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain one day. Regardless, he’ll be leaving their exceptional setup to join United, who have been a mess in recent years.

Even though it’s still early days, it’s another positive and decisive move from INEOS, who have wasted no time since their 25% stake was announced on Christmas Eve. Getting their man in early and without any drawn-out media speculation that has become synonymous with Manchester United.

INEOS has an ideology of ‘best in class’ bringing in high-level operators into prominent roles. However, Berrada won’t begin his new role until the summer so it will be a while before he can show whether he is capable of living up to their mantra.

This level of decisiveness has been missing from United for a long time and considering the nature of this appointment, it’s reasonable to assume that more employments will be made in the near future.

The likes of Dan Ashworth (Newcastle’s Sporting Director) and Paul Mitchell (Former head of recruitment at Spurs and Southampton) have also been linked with a move to Old Trafford and would further strengthen this notion of best in class. It would also likely see real change finally take shape at Manchester United.

It’s a statement of intent from INEOS and this is backed up by the statement United released when announcing Omar Berrada’s arrival. “The club is determined to put football and performance on the pitch back at the heart of everything we do. Omar’s appointment represents the first step on this journey.”

Although these are just words right now, if more action can continue to be demonstrated there will be plenty for fans to be looking forward to in the future.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013 standards at Old Trafford have dropped significantly and for fans it felt like success has been measured in commercial revenue rather than merits on the pitch.

It may be some time before there is any observable change and this summer will prove to be a significant one, with the club needing to move on underperforming players and bring in new talent amidst FFP constraints. This will be a huge challenge for the new ownership model to achieve.

Before all that, United return to action this Sunday against Newport in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, then returning to Premier League Action away to Wolves the following Thursday.

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