A new Director of Football, a new owner for sporting control, a new CEO, and a new reporting manager for the manager. Manchester United are on course for a huge executive overhaul, and if history is an indication, it will be overseen by Sir David Brailsford.
Having already covered who is Jean-Claude Blanc, United’s potential new CEO, now we take a look at Blanc’s boss, Sir David Brailsford, to whom the United CEO, whoever it might be, will report.
Who is Sir David Brailsford?
Sir David Brailsford is the Director of Sports at INEOS, which means that he oversees the operations and executive management of every sports team under the INEOS umbrella.
These include football teams like OGC Nice, Abidjan, Lausanne, and potentially Manchester United.
In addition, he also manages other sports teams like British Cycling, and Grenadiers team, and has a say in the running of Mercedes F1 team, in which INEOS is an investor.
At his heart, he is a British Cycling coach and performance director who shot into the limelight for his approach to the development of the teams he is overseeing.
A key part of that is his “marginal gains” philosophy, where he tries to increase the efficiency of each arm of a department by a small margin, thereby leading to a vastly improved department holistically.
Under his stewardship, the British Cycling team became one of the most dominant forces in all of sport. The British cyclists won 59 World Championship medals, along with multiple Olympic Gold medals between 2003 and 2013 when Brailsford was in charge of their development.
For his extraordinary performance as Team Principal of the Cycling team, he was awarded the honour of a Knight Bachelor and officially became Sir David Brailsford.
Association with INEOS Sport and Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Highly impressed by Brailsford’s performance as the Team Principal of British Cycling, Sir Jim Ratcliffe made him the Director of INEOS Sport in 2021. He had already been with Ratcliffe’s group for multiple years prior to being handed this title.
Right off the bat, his first major responsibility was to oversee the development of OGC Nice, the biggest club under the INEOS umbrella at the time.
After initial few hiccups, as neither Ratcliffe nor Brailsford had the experience of owning a club in a top-five league, Nice started purring.
Knowledgeable football people were installed in key positions. Director of Football Florent Ghisolfi, at just 38, along with manager Francesco Farioli, is overseeing Nice’s ascent to near the top of the table this season.
This would come as good news to United fans, as this means their potential new owners have the humility to recognise their own limitations and install experts for every position.
Moreover, they now have experience of owning a big club and while Nice are obviously not in the same ballpark as United when it comes to fanbase, revenue, aspiration, and size, precious lessons have been learned by INEOS.
What can be expected at Manchester United?
If the early murmurs coming from INEOS’ camp are correct, those lessons learned at Nice are already proving fruitful.
Current CEO Richard Arnold is likely to leave his job at United, to be replaced by highly-regarded Executive Jean-Claude Blanc.
Transfer maestro Paul Mitchell has been tipped to take over as Director of Football in a much-needed move for the club that has wasted billions in the last decade with barely any success to show for it.
Furthermore, this will finally bring United to the 21st-century model of multi-club ownership. Manchester City have mastered it, creating a conveyor belt of talent all across the globe. There are already quite a few Nice players who could be of interest to United, as sketchy as it might sound.
Sir David Brailsford can be expected to lead a reset of the rotten corporate culture at United and a pivot to a high-performance environment.
If a boyhood United fan in Sir Jim Ratcliffe can assemble a team of talented individuals, of which Brailsford is one, to lead United back to their lofty heights, they will achieve legend status.
For Brailsford, it would just be another sport conquered, as he is already a legend in his own right.