Following Ed Woodward’s departure, Richard Arnold took over as the new CEO of Manchester United in February this year.
It is safe to say that his predecessor and ex-colleague Woodward failed on multiple fronts at Old Trafford. Woodward took over after David Gill left in 2013 and has overseen a period of decline for Manchester United over the last nine years.
Success on the pitch was clearly not a priority for him as he appeared to focus more on generating funds for the club. Managers were not backed, which was detrimental to how the team performed. The club is now entering a new dawn under Erik ten Hag and Richard Arnold.
Here are three things he must change as CEO in order to be a success at the club.
#3. Improve recruitment strategy
One of the most important factors behind Liverpool and Manchester City's recent success has been their impeccable recruitment. Ralf Rangnick stated in April after a 4-0 thrashing at Anfield that United were six years behind their arch-rivals in Liverpool.
Success in the league depends heavily on identifying talents and then developing them into stars. Erik Ten Hag and his staff have gained a reputation for developing talent at Ajax.
Arnold must deliver the up-and-coming talents to Ten Hag and his staff. From a business perspective, this makes sense as there will be a greater sell-on value for the players.
Fans have seen United players run out of contracts and leave on free transfers this summer. This has to change in the coming years.
#2. Revamp training facilities
Manchester City have invested heavily in their training facilities and boast a state-of-the-art complex. Liverpool recently moved to the AXA Training Centre in 2021.
Manchester United moved to Carrington in 2000 and have been there since. The picture could not be any clearer. United’s rivals invest heavily into aspects that will have an impact on their team’s success on the pitch.
Arnold must address basic problems like training facilities as it can have a massive impact on the team. Manchester United are arguably one of the biggest clubs in the world and it is high time they start acting like one.
The training ground needs a revamp and Arnold should look at what rivals City and Liverpool have done. In order to close the gap between these two teams in the league, they need to start following a similar blueprint off the pitch as well.
#1. Footballing people need to be making footballing decisions
One of Woodward’s biggest mistakes was not appointing a director of football to deal with the footballing operations. While Woodward worked at the club prior to becoming CEO, he was not qualified to deal with the footballing element of the role.
Woodward has a history in banking and it can be argued that he was successful in generating money for the Glazers. However, football fans rightly care most about what happens on the pitch.
Arnold has appointed John Murtough as Director of Football and Darren Fletcher as technical director. This is already a promising sign as he has avoided the biggest mistake Woodward made.
Murtough and Fletcher were responsible for bringing Ralf Rangnick in as interim manager and also had a hand in the appointment of new manager Erik Ten Hag. They have received praise from Manchester United fans for this appointment and there is a sense of hope in the fanbase.
Allowing footballing people to make footballing decisions means the manager is more likely to get backed, which is critical. Manchester United cannot afford to continue making commercial signings and need to start acquiring real talent.
Arnold has a huge job ahead of him but the first few months of his reign have shown some promise.