Manchester United’s long running search for their first ever Technical Director has centered on their former goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, according to reports. Van Der Sar is currently the CEO of his boyhood club Ajax, and has played a critical role in their recent resurgence on the European stage. Van Der Sar first rejoined Ajax as Marketing Director in 2012, before being promoted to CEO in 2016.
Betting site Paddy Power have suspended betting on van der Sar’s appointment at United, and released the following statement:
“Man United are said to be desperate to hire former player Edwin van der Sar for their vacant director of football role – and it seems punters think that move is nailed on.
“We were inundated with big bets on the move on Sunday night into Monday morning, so we’ve decided to stop taking any further wagers on it.”
United’s search for their first ever Technical Director has gone on for over a year now, in a stunning display of either arrogance or incompetence by those currently in charge of off-field football matters, namely executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. A lack of direction has repeatedly cost United since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, and a poor leadership infrastructure is as much to blame as anything for the club’s half-decade plus of stagnation.
Even the Technical Director job description itself hasn’t been consistent. Formerly described as a Director of Football type role, charged with long-term planning of recruitment, among other things, the job is now being described as one in which the director would form part of a recruitment team, alongside the manager, Woodward, and others.
Whatever the job is, the most recent names linked to it suggest that Woodward has no serious intentions of giving up control over transfers. The likes of Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher returning to the club would certainly please fans, but neither man has any experience as a football executive, and both would likely be little more than an advisory presence.
Van Der Sar, however, has now learned the ropes of running a club behind the scenes, and would be more than just a sentimental hiring, even though he is obviously a candidate who ticks the box of “getting” United as well. The Dutchman spent six hugely successful years at the club, winning four league titles as well as the Champions League. Whether he would give up his CEO role at Ajax for what would essentially be a demotion at United, however, remains to be seen.