Sat. Jan 16th, 2021

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Why Everton transfer guru Marcel Brands could be the answer Manchester United have been looking for 

6 min read

Marcel Brands could be the answer to Manchester United‘s problems after reports claimed the Red Devils are interested in hiring the Everton director of football to lead their transfer strategy. 

The 58-year-old Toffees chief has reportedly been named as a potential option for a director of football role at Old Trafford, with Brands’ contract at Goodison Park expiring at the end of the season.

The Dutchman would take over from chief executive Ed Woodward in terms of the arranging the transfer proceedings at United, with several of the club’s supporters upset at the Red Devils’ inability to bring in top talents such as Jadon Sancho.

Manchester United have been linked with Everton director of football Marcel Brands (above)

Manchester United have been linked with Everton director of football Marcel Brands (above)

Sportsmail looks at how the 58-year-old Dutchman (middle) would help matters at Old Trafford

Sportsmail looks at how the 58-year-old Dutchman (middle) would help matters at Old Trafford

With United in dire need of some leadership at boardroom level and Brands appearing to be the perfect fit, Sportsmail looks at how the 58-year-old transfer guru would be an excellent fit at Old Trafford… 

Why do Manchester United need a director of football ? 

Manchester United’s transfer strategy is in need of a rejig following a summer window that summed up their recent struggles on and off-the-pitch. 

After chasing Dortmund winger Sancho all summer, the club’s only marquee purchase was £40million midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax – who is yet to start for the club in the Premier League this season. 

With time running out in the window, United’s only other major buys saw free agent Edinson Cavani arrive as a back-up striker, while left-back Alex Telles joined from FC Porto but failed to usurp Luke Shaw in the full-back role during his first few weeks at the club. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United had a difficult window and are not challenging for the title

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United had a difficult window and are not challenging for the title

This window epitomised United’s need for an experienced figure in football to advise the upper echelons of the club’s hierarchy regarding where to stick their money. 

While chief executive Woodward has been at the club for over 15 years, he has no experience of playing or coaching in the elite game leading to many Red Devils supporters frustrated at their club’s activity in the market.  

Woodward’s case is not helped by the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United stand far away from producing a serious challenge for the Premier League title as their top-flight trophy drought increased to seven years over the summer.  

United supporters are becoming more frustrated with chief executive Ed Woodward (above)

United supporters are becoming more frustrated with chief executive Ed Woodward (above)

Would Brands be a good fit at Manchester United? 

The appointment of Brands as director of football could be a step in the right direction to bring a more competitive edge to Manchester United as well as move back towards the values they showed under Sir Alex Ferguson. 

The Dutch chief’s transfer strategy combines exciting marquee signings with the smart acquisition of young talents that can be developed under the right manager. 

But as well as being able to spot the right players, Brands is capable of selecting the right manager too. 

After retiring from football in the late 1990s, Brands became technical director at Dutch club RKC Waalwijk. He immediately appointed Martin Jol as the club’s new manager and the club went from bottom of the table to challenging for European places over a few years.  

Dutch chief Brands is not just good at spotting players, he can find a decent manager too

Dutch chief Brands is not just good at spotting players, he can find a decent manager too

Brands spotted former Tottenham and Fulham boss Martin Jol (above) early on in his career

Brands spotted former Tottenham and Fulham boss Martin Jol (above) early on in his career

Brands had a similar impact at PSV Eindhoven a decade later, when he appointed Phillip Cocu as boss – who helped them win three Eredivisie titles and the Dutch Cup over the course of six years. How Manchester United fans would love that trophy record now.  

A step up from Everton to Manchester United would not be too big a step for Brands as the 58-year-old is used to dealing with big personalities. 

As well as Jol at Waalwijk, Brands also worked alongside former United head coach Louis van Gaal at AZ Alkmaar, where the pair helped the club win just their second ever Eredivisie title in 2005. 

Brands (not pictured) was with Louis van Gaal (right) when AZ won the Dutch league in 2005

Brands (not pictured) was with Louis van Gaal (right) when AZ won the Dutch league in 2005

And then, of course, there’s current Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, who Brands helped bring to the Toffees in December 2019.  

The former AC Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager can only speak highly of Brands following his recruitment work over the summer transfer window just gone.    

When speaking about Brands, Ancelotti claimed in October: ‘He is doing a fantastic job and he has done a fantastic job. 

Current Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti (left) is a huge admirer of Brands' (right) work at Everton

Current Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti (left) is a huge admirer of Brands’ (right) work at Everton

‘I have a fantastic relationship with him, the board still has a fantastic relationship with him, if he has to renew the contract I don’t know. The job that he is doing is really good.’ 

While Manchester United will be a completely different ball game to what he’s experienced before, success has followed Brands wherever he has gone.  

What’s he done at Everton?

Everton have not yet brought trophies during Brands two-and-a-half years at Goodison Park but following the tumultuous reign of Marco Silva, the Dutch chief has steadied the ship and look to be heading in the right direction with Ancelotti at the helm. 

Upon arriving at Goodison Park in 2018, Brands’ main responsibility was to fix Everton’s work in the transfer market after several failed signings such as Wayne Rooney, Davy Klaasen, Nikola Vlasic and Yannick Bolasie.  

Overall, not all of Brands signings have been perfect, but very few have gone wrong. 

Brands (left) has helped build an Everton squad that could break into the top-six this season

Brands (left) has helped build an Everton squad that could break into the top-six this season

The big improvement that Brands has made is Everton’s ability to bring in marquee signings and pipping Europe’s biggest clubs to top talents.

Players such as Lucas Digne, James Rodriguez, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes have swapped some of the biggest clubs in the world to join Brands’ project at Goodison Park over the past two-and-a-half years. 

There has also been some smart investment from Brands towards younger players. While the likes of Richarlison, Alex Iwobi and unknown prodigy Jean-Philippe Gbamin have cost the Toffees over £100million altogether, all three look like players who can start for Everton in the coming years.  

James Rodriguez (right) and Richarlison (left) are two players Brands has signed for Everton

James Rodriguez (right) and Richarlison (left) are two players Brands has signed for Everton

Brands is not just an overspender, the Dutch director of football can spot a bargain too. Everton’s squad depth has been improved by the cheap acquisitions of winger Bernard and Fabian Delph, while the signing of left-back Niels Nkounkou on a free transfer from Marseille looks a smart piece of business.  

Everton’s transfer guru has also done well to move players along at the right time. Unwanted players such as Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott were moved on at the right time while the Toffees claimed large fees for Idrissa Gueye, Davy Klassen and Ademola Lookman which has gone towards player recruitment.  

Some signings have not gone to plan, but the cost of those players’ failings as not been to dear for Everton. 

Brands has also sold the likes of Idrissa Gueye (left) and Theo Walcott (right) at the right time

Brands has also sold the likes of Idrissa Gueye (left) and Theo Walcott (right) at the right time

Striker Moise Kean (above) was a rare flop signed by Brands but he is now starring for PSG

Striker Moise Kean (above) was a rare flop signed by Brands but he is now starring for PSG

The £25million signing of Moise Kean from Juventus failed to live up to the hype but Brands found a way to keep his value at a premium by moving him on to PSG on loan over the summer – where he has five goals in eight games this season. 

If Manchester United can secure Brands’ services with his contract running down at Everton, then the Dutchman could well be the most important signing the Red Devils have made in several years.  

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