Dougie Freedman has enjoyed the mentorship of Sir Alex Ferguson for large parts of his career in what could be a crucial factor in deciding Manchester United’s next Director of Football.
Freedman, currently the Sporting Director at Crystal Palace, has been strongly linked with the executive role at Old Trafford, following the news John Murtough would likely be departing the club once the new ownership structure is confirmed.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is set to become a minority owner of United having agreed a deal for a 25% stake of the club, subject to ratification.
It has been reported that the premium price Ratcliffe has agreed to pay for this deal was contingent on the INEOS owner assuming full sporting control at Old Trafford.
Though this has yet to be officially confirmed, it is widely reported that both a new Director of Football and a new Chief Executive will be installed within this new INEOS-led structure.
It has already been confirmed that CEO Richard Arnold will be vacating his current position, with Jean-Claude Blanc the strongly linked replacement. The Frenchman has enjoyed great success at the executive level at both Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, and appears tailor made to take on a senior role at a commercial behemoth like United.
The Director of Football position appears more uncertain, however.
Paul Mitchell had been the early front-runner with the INEOS Sporting Group thought to be long-term admirers of the executive. Mitchell has enjoyed successful roles at Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, the Red Bull Sporting Group and, most recently, Monaco.
Michael Edwards was another name linked with the Old Trafford hotseat; the former executive at Anfield widely praised for his work in helping Jurgen Klopp rebuild Liverpool.
Both men were reported to be on a shortlist for the position at United. But another name has emerged in recent weeks – Dougie Freedman.
Freedman’s work at Selhurst Park has been as quietly impressive as it has consistent, despite a much more limited budget than his competitors. The Scot is widely respected throughout English football, having previously worked as a manager.
Crystal Palace have always appeared to possess a cohort of talented youngsters or a group of experienced pros picked up on the cheap during Freedman’s time as the club’s executive. The club’s current iteration – Joachim Andersen, Marc Guehi, Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze – represents one of their most impressive groups. And the four players cost less than what John Murtough sanctioned in United’s move for Antony last summer.
It was reported that Ratcliffe will seek “guidance” from Sir Alex Ferguson once his ownership bid (and the associated sporting control) is confirmed. As such, Ferguson’s long-standing admiration for Freedman may prove pivotal in where Ratcliffe sets his sights.
The Daily Mail report Freedman has been added to “shortlist” for the position at Old Trafford, having been “mentored for many years by fellow Glaswegian, Sir Alex.” This may be enough to give Freedman the inside track ahead of his competitors.