Do you have what it takes to be Man United’s Director of Football?

Manchester United are on the hunt for a Director of Football - but what the hell do they actually do? Paul Watson investigates....


The Director of Football role was initially created in a simpler age for football and its sole purpose was to allow a club to get rid of a manager without having to sack him.

The beauty of the process was that it could work either way around. A struggling but popular, usually veteran manager could be ‘moved upstairs’ – football’s equivalent of being put out to stud – allowing the club to appoint someone new without the guilt.

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On the other hand, if you had an embattled but unpopular manager who you couldn’t afford to sack, you simply brought in a new, smarmy Director of Football to boss him around and waited until the manager inevitably resigned, which would usually take a matter of weeks.

These days, however, there’s a lot more to the Director of Football position, probably.

So before you put in your CV to United, what will be expected of a Director of Football at Old Trafford?

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Make sure football happens

First and foremost, the Director of Football needs to make sure that plenty of football happens.

Being a football club, that seems like a pretty simple task, but all eyes will be on you if you fail to get a game together on a Saturday or have to send out an email to the whole Football League address book late on Friday evening asking if anyone is free the next day.

Constantly be on the phone

You need a good phone contract if you’re going to survive as a Director of Football.

You’ll be expected to be on the phone at any given moment, presumably to a Portuguese super agent, just waiting for the cameras to pick you out as soon as your team concede a goal.

We can only imagine that O2 does a special ‘Director of Football Contract’ that gives you unlimited calls, texts and data plus puts Jorge Mendes and David Moyes on your speed dial.

Scare the manager

Any manager worth his salt lives in fear of a Director of Football.

After all, this is the man who could be chatting to his replacement or, worse still, squandering the entire transfer budget on Marouane Fellaini.

The Director of Football should always make sure that when walking past the manager that he gives him a knowing smile and then pretends to field a call from Zinedine Zidane, criticising the team’s performance in a stage whisper and pointedly saying ‘see you soon Zizou’ before hanging up.

Splash the cash

As a Director of Football you have the right to make a string of signings that the manager completely disagrees with based solely on if a player might be ‘marketable in China’ or once inspired your team to glory in Football Manager.

The relationship between manager and Director of Football is like a kid at Christmas waiting for a present from an absentee uncle – you know he’ll have a shocker but you’re never sure quite how terrible the gift he proudly unveils will be.

As they don’t really understand football at all, the Director of Football should be ready at any moment during a transfer window to cut a cheque for £50 million based solely on some YouTube clips and the fact that another Director of Football is sniffing around and to doggedly laugh off any suggestion that you might be selling a star player right up until his pen is poised over a contract at another club.

Pass the buck

Most importantly, in the end you have the manager as your fall guy.

While the fans are preparing banners calling for the manager’s head on a platter, you can sit back in the director’s box, ignore those endless missed calls from Sam Allardyce, and put your feet up safe in the knowledge that nobody really knows what you do and whether you’re doing it well or not.

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