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Manchester United Eye Sam Williams in Scouting Department Overhaul

Manchester United are preparing to embark on an overhaul of their scouting department, according to journalist Alan Nixon. The Red Devils are reportedly looking at bringing back former first-team recruitment analyst and academy scout, Sam Williams, who is currently head of recruitment at EFL Championship promotion hopefuls, Ipswich Town.

Williams left Old Trafford for Suffolk in April 2022, with Town’s manager, Kieran McKenna, headhunting him for the position after working closely together at United. Williams has a wealth of experience in the scouting department, having worked for Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton Wanderers to pinpoint potential talent for their respective academies.

New minority investor, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is said to be readying a new scouting backroom department, in a bid to improve the club’s strike rate in the transfer market. United have invested poorly for the best part of a decade, with precious little strategy or direction within the club’s hierarchy. All of this has influenced the club’s chronic on-field underperformance.

United once again feel the frustration of having to watch bitter rivals Manchester City and Liverpool lock horns in this year’s Premier League title race, while the Red Devils sit on the sidelines. Despite Liverpool leading the way at the top of the table, City remain the favourites to retain their Premier League crown. Meanwhile Erik ten Hag’s men are currently priced as long as +49900 within Betano’s licensed online sports betting markets to win their first Premier League title since 2012-13.

Williams has quickly established himself as a key figure at Portman Road

With Williams recruited by Ipswich before the end of the 2021/22 season, he was able to have a say on Town’s summer and January transfer windows for the 2022/23 campaign. In truth, it was Ipswich’s January investments which helped to push the Tractor Boys over the line to League One automatic promotion. Williams identified the likes of Nathan Broadhead, George Hirst and Ipswich-born Harry Clarke to spearhead Ipswich’s promotion bid, which ended in style with 98 points and a second-place finish.

Now back in the second tier, Ipswich have recruited smartly again in the last month, securing battle-hardened Championship campaigners Kieffer Moore and Lewis Travis, as well as exciting talents in Jeremy Sarmiento and Ali Al-Hamadi. Against all odds, Ipswich have established themselves as automatic promotion contenders and are in with a shout of back-to-back promotions.

Antony £25m transfer fee gaffe is the tip of the iceberg with United’s recruitment

There’s no better case study for United’s ineptitude in the recruitment stakes than their chase for Brazilian winger, Antony. Reports have recently suggested that United’s scouts originally valued Antony at no more than £25 million. This figure was established during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign at Old Trafford – potentially by the likes of Williams and co.

The club had been monitoring Antony’s development with Dutch giants, Ajax, for some time. When Erik ten Hag was appointed at the helm, the club went all out to sign one of ten Hag’s former stars. After initially baulking at paying over £60 million for Antony’s services, United eventually parted with an eye-watering £85.5 million fee – more than three times his market value in the eyes of United’s own scouts.

It’s been very difficult for Antony to establish himself as a regular at Old Trafford. Just four goals in 44 appearances haven’t endeared him to the United faithful. All four of those goals came in the 2022/23 campaign too, meaning Antony is without a goal or an assist this season. That’s simply far from good enough for United’s second-most expensive player in the club’s illustrious history.

It’s this kind of attitude in the transfer market which Ratcliffe and co. will be desperate to weed out, as his investment inches closer to being ratified. Future transfer budgets must be spent with greater alignment to the club’s medium and long-term goals.

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