Monchi 'can’t believe' Man Utd do not have a Sporting Director
Written by Simon Austin — October 1, 2020
SEVILLA Sporting Director Monchi says he “can’t believe” that Manchester United do not have the same role at their club.
The 52-year-old has worked for the Spanish side for 18 years during two separate spells.
During that time he has developed a reputation as one of the leaders in his field, helping the club win six Europa Leagues and make huge profits on players such as Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas and Jose Antonio Reyes.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, Monchi (full name Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo) said: “This is my opinion – all clubs should have this position.
“What is the main function? To dedicate the time to everything that relates on a sports level. Where 60 to 70% of the budget is allocated to the first team, if you don’t have a specialist who deals with that, it is very difficult to understand.
“I do understand there are very successful clubs – Manchester United are probably one of the top five in the world - [that] do not have that specific position.
“But I think that clubs more and more are aware that they really need this position and also we are the connection between the technical staff, the squad, the board, we know the market, we get lots of information through the different scouts.
“So, for me, I can’t believe a club does not have this particular position. Logically, I have to believe in it because that’s what I do. But I do think it’s essential.”
As you can see from the list at the bottom of the page, Manchester United are one of only six Premier League clubs not to have a Sporting Director or equivalent (clubs also use the titles Director of Football, Technical Director and Director of Football Operations).
The others are Chelsea, Newcastle, Sheffield United, West Ham and Wolves. At every club, the role is performed in a slightly different way, but Brighton Technical Director Dan Ashworth has described it broadly as: “Looking after the interests of the club in the medium to long term.
“There are six things that come into me - men’s first team, women’s first team, player recruitment, the Academy, medical and sports science, and the player loan department.”
In his Telegraph interview, Monchi added: “There are clubs like Leeds, Liverpool and [Manchester] City, amongst others, that are working with quite a well-developed sporting management structure.”
Privately, United argue that while they do not have the specific role, they have a number of different people who combine to fulfil the functions of a Sporting Director.
- Ed Woodward (Executive Vice-Chairman): Has ultimate power over transfers and senior appointments to first-team staff.
- John Murtough (Head of Development): Oversees Academy and led expansion of scouting department and network at the club.
- Matthew Judge (Head of Corporate Development): Heavily involved in negotiations for transfers and contracts.
- Alan Dawson MBE (Director of Football Operations): Oversees management of first-team staff and operations.
- Chris Chiang (Strategy Executive): Pieces together big projects, such as establishing a data science department.
In the Telegraph interview, Monchi explained how Sevilla’s fabled recruitment department works.
“We have two pillars,” he said. One is scouting and the other is the co-ordination with the coach. At Sevilla, the coach does not decide the name of the player. He says the profile of the player he would like and we work on that.”
The year is divided in two – starting with July to December.
“The first part is what we call the ‘gross tracking’, where we do a very broad tracking of all the tournaments and championships that we think are important, so that we get as many players as possible into our database," he said.
Each of Sevilla’s 12 scouts is assigned a certain league and each month they identify 11 “ideal” players.
Then, in the second part of the year, from December, “we open up our database and go through all the different information we have been accumulating as we start on the second part of our year.
“We move from ‘gross’ to ‘net’ tracking and we don’t follow matches in general. We have around 400 to 450 players and six or seven technical staff carry out a tracking of them.
“From January we follow that up and by May we have another selection, another screening. It is still 15 players per position, so around 150 to 160 players, and we sit down with the coach and say ‘Mister, what do you think we need for this year?’
“And then maybe we have those 15 players who play that position and we ask ‘which ones fill all the characteristics that the coach wants?’ Then we get down to seven finalists and they are the names we give to the coach.
“They have been through lots of different filters and if the coach likes one of the names then we start to move into the next phase of seeing whether we can sign him up."
CLUBS WITH SPORTING DIRECTOR (OR EQUIVALENT)
- Arsenal: Technical Director - Edu
- Aston Villa: Sporting Director - Johan Lange
- Brighton: Technical Director - Dan Ashworth
- Burnley: Technical Director - Mike Rigg
- Chelsea: None (Petr Cech is Technical and Performance Advisor & Marina Granovskaia is Director)
- Crystal Palace: Sporting Director - Dougie Freedman
- Everton: Director of Football - Marcel Brands
- Fulham: Director of Football Operations - Tony Khan
- Leeds United: Director of Football - Victor Orta
- Leicester City: Director of Football - Jon Rudkin
- Liverpool: Sporting Director - Michael Edwards
- Manchester City: Director of Football - Txiki Begiristain
- Manchester United: None
- Newcastle United: None
- Sheffield United: None
- Southampton: Director of Football Operations - Matt Crocker
- Tottenham: Director of Football Operations - Trevor Birch
- West Ham: None
- West Brom: Technical Director - Luke Dowling
- Wolves: None