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Sir Jim Ratcliffe is Already TRANSFORMING Manchester United

6 minute read Published February 27, 2024

Is the suffering over for Manchester United fans? Well, within three years, it could be. That's how long it’ll take to get actual change into place, according to Sir Jim Ratcliffe. The gas and petrochemicals billionaire is, since a week, the confirmed owner of 27% of Manchester United, 

Of course, his agreement with the Glazers has been known for quite some time. With Ratcliffe and INEOS the Fit-and-Proper-Person test all Premier League owners must pass was seen as more of a formality. And Ratcliffe and his company INEOS have wasted no time.

Sirs Jim Ratcliffe and Alex Ferguson

Within days of having an accepted bid, directors Dave Brailsford, Jean-Claude Blanc and Sir Jim Ratcliffe  from INEOS Sport were seen in Manchester, at games and in the news.

New Backroom Organisation

One of the first actions the new owner took was poaching Omar Berrada from the City Football Group Manchester City. Omar Berrada was the Chief Football Operations Officer at the local rival. He replaces Richard Arnold, who’d been at the position for a pretty short time, replacing Woodward. 

The difference between Berrada and his two predecessors is the focus on football. Woodward and Arnold had a very strong commercial focus. The club had official tractor, noodle and pillow partnerships. Ratcliffe wants to bring football back into focus. Berrada’s focus in the City Football Group was on football.

In the past few weeks the recruitment of Dan Ashworth has been big news. The current Newcastle United sporting director has been placed on gardening leave after requesting a move to Manchester United. Ashworth has a stellar record from Brighton, the England National teams youth setup as well as Newcastle. 

Ashworth has been hailed as one of the best sporting directors in the world. This is the route Ratcliffe wants the club to move. To put world class people in the most important positions. His actions have been decisive so far, securing two key people.

Dan Ashworth

In general, Jim Ratcliffe wants to reshape the way the business of Manchester United is run. That business currently employs over 1000 people. That’s the biggest organisation in football. Bigger organisations are necessary when the business grows. But United’s is the largest in the world. That means decisions take longer and ideas get watered down by bureaucracy. So they’re also trimming the size of the organisation.

Sir Jim is showing very clearly that he’s not the Glazers. He’s given an interview. He’s showing his personal commitment to the clubs. He’s gone to a lot of games. He’s met with the supporters' trust, Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona. He’s getting involved. Sir Jim and INEOS even took a meeting with Ralph Ragnick, the man who suggested Manchester United needed “open heart surgery”, to get his input.


Since Ten Hag joined Manchester United have signed 16 first team players. 10 of those are over the age of 30. This is not in line with the club's values and it’s not what Ten Hag is good at. At Ajax, the Dutch coach excelled at bringing youth into the team. Manchester United is one of the most successful teams in the world when it comes to fostering talent.

And it shows. During Ten Hags time, the most successful additions to the first team have been younger players. They’ve come both from the academy, such as Garnacho and Mainoo, as well as through transfers, like Højlund. The older players that have been brought in, like Casemiro, Eriksen and Evans have played a lot of games but aren’t what gets the fans excited. Rumour has it that these players are on their way out.

Erik Ten Hag

In the past, players have been signed to huge contracts. Transfers that haven’t worked out have been hard to get rid of. Anthony Martial for example has been at the club for nine years but has only contributed significantly in one season. He was even given a new contract in 2019. They’ve been trying to sell players like Donny van de Beek (yes he’s still under contract), and Maguire but no team wants to pay their wages.

The players seemingly don’t fit together. Constant switching of managers, panic buying big names to cover up a failed season and being unable to move unwanted players on has led to a team without an identity.

A Real Identity

This is why the transformation will take three years. Ashworth will be setting the identity for Manchester United. What kind of football do they want to play? Which manager suits that kind of football? Who are the players that’ll give that manager the best chance of succeeding? And the next manager?

For years, a new manager has been brought in. Then players to suit that manager. When he ultimately gets fired, a new manager with a different way of playing is brought in. And players to suit that player. Repeat a few times and you get a group of players that don’t fit together and suit no manager.

Anyone who’s watched Manchester United for the last few years knows that they’re lacking in this department. Ten Hag has a very distinct way of playing. A distinct way of playing requires distinct players. If the club doesn’t have both, they’ll come out looking like a different team every game. That’s what’s happening now.

What supporters want more than anything, though, is win. There’s been the odd trophy and top three finish since Sir Alex left, but no consistency.

New stadium

Old Trafford once was the biggest and best stadium in England. As time marches on however, every stadium gets dated. That’s what’s happened at Old Trafford. It’s hallowed ground for supporters. That Ferguson era of winning was there. So, building new is not an easy decision. A renovation, rebuild or completely new stadium has been discussed for years. 

The need has been there for a long time, but the plans never got anywhere. For Sir Jim, though, it took only a few weeks, maybe a month. Discussions have been started with the city council. They’ve found partners for the development. 

It’s not any stadium. He calls it “Wembley of the North”. That’s some ambition.

Looking forward

Manchester United supporters say “talk is cheap”. They want to see action. So far, with the time he’s had, sir Jim couldn’t have taken more action. Despite almost two decades of mismanagement, supporters have good reason to be optimistic.

Of course, the most important actions aren’t the quick, acute actions at the beginning. It’s the action taken every day for months and years. And those have yet to be proven. INEOS have proven that they’re committed owners. They’ve been at Lausanne for seven years, at Nice for around six.

Nice, at least, is getting better, but it’s taken a while. Manchester United is a different beast. It remains to be seen if they’re actually any good at running one of the world's largest clubs.

There’s also uncertainty around Erik Ten Hag. As they’ll be working on an identity for the team, will Ten Hag be the right man to execute on that identity? This season has been rough for Ten Hag and his team. Sure, they’ve been unlucky with injuries. The team's lack of depth has been exposed. Something else that needs to be addressed.

United supporters should be optimistic. While the club has a lot to do to catch up to Liverpool and Manchester City. But, Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s start at the club has shown anything, it’s that he’s a man of action.

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