Manchester United given clear date to kickstart transfer activity after key appointment

A couple of weeks ago Sir Jim Ratcliffe was bemoaning the pace of change at Manchester Unitedand how the club was working with one hand tied behind its back in the early days of the transfer window.

“We’re sort of a bit handicapped in that sense,” Ratcliffe said of the difficulty in turning the structure he wants at the club from a dream into a reality. Ineos had identified the best in class to run United, they just hadn’t managed to appoint them yet.

But progress is starting to come quickly on that front. Jason Wilcox has been in place as technical director for just over two months and, finally, he is about to be joined by Dan Ashworth, more than four months after the 53-year-old was placed on gardening leave by Newcastle.

A deadlock that looked like it couldn’t be broken without the need for arbitration had a key turned at the start of July. After the two clubs agreed a compensation package, Ashworth is free to start work as United’s sporting director immediately.

That will please Ratcliffe, who has used a couple of interviews since Ineos’ investment into United to complain about the gardening leave issues he has to deal with when trying to make appointments.

“I see absolutely no point in the gardening leave thing that they have in football,” he said during an interview with Bloomberg. “It just makes it difficult to change things with pace because Omar [Berrada] is on six months, Dan Ashworth is on one-and-a-half years.”

Ratcliffe might have been frustrated by those issues, but with Ashworth now in place, he is counting down the days until Berrada can start on July 13. That feels like the date that Ineos will have circled as the moment they can really start driving things forward.

Berrada’s first day is actually a Saturday, with the first pre-season friendly taking place in Norway on the Monday. It remains to be seen how his first few days at the club pan out and whether he makes the trip to Trondheim for the game against Rosenborg. Ashworth could also be tied up by transfer business at that point of the window.

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