Man Utd hint as Alex Ferguson role emerges with Ratcliffe drawing up shortlist

Incoming Manchester United minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe could reportedly lean on the advice of club icon Sir Alex Ferguson when picking a sporting director, it has been claimed. Ferguson’s input could supposedly be good news for Crystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman’s chances of winning the role after John Murtough’s impending departure.

Murtough is widely tipped to leave United once Ratcliffe’s £1.4million bid for 25 per-cent of the club is ratified over the coming weeks. The director of football will depart alongside CEO Richard Arnold.

Ratcliffe’s bid is being made through his petrochemicals giant INEOS, who will reportedly take over the sporting arm of the Premier League club. The 71-year-old British billionaire will oversee a major overhaul of the Old Trafford outfit.

One of Ratcliffe’s first jobs will be to appoint a replacement for Murtough. United will need a new head of their sporting department once Murtough leaves.

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According to the Daily Telegraph, Ratcliffe will lean on the advice of legendary former Red Devils manager Ferguson, whose input could be crucial in selecting the new individual. Ferguson is reportedly keen on Palace sporting director Freedman, whose savvy work at Selhurst Park over the last six years has not gone unnoticed among the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

However, Freedman is just one of five people Ratcliffe is considering appointing. Atalanta’s Lee Congerton, former AC Milan pair Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara, and Atletico Madrid’s Andrea Berta are also in the frame for the job, the report claims.

Leaning on Ferguson’s advice would likely be a popular move by Ratcliffe, whose bid has caused controversy due to it meaning that the deeply unpopular Glazer family remain at Old Trafford. Ferguson spent 26 years as manager at United and won 13 Premier League titles.

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United have been in decline since Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, which came in the immediate aftermath of the club’s latest top-flight trophy. The 81-year-old, who is now a director at the club, could now have a significant say on how Ratcliffe will overhaul the stricken English giants.

Candidate Freedman was previously a neighbour of Ferguson’s before taking his job at Palace, where he had previously been a successful player and briefly managed the club. The former Scotland striker impressed Ferguson during a chat at Old Trafford after Palace defeated United in the League Cup in 2011.

However, Ratcliffe will take time to select a new sporting director, with the legendary former defender Maldini on his list. Englishman Congerton, currently at Atalanta, has had success at Sunderland, Celtic and Leicester.

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