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Jim Ratcliffe wants Dave Brailsford to overhaul Manchester United — billionaire behind Ineos sporting empire remains confident of successful bid

According to reports, the former British Cycling and Ineos Grenadiers boss would be prominent in Ratcliffe's potential takeover at Old Trafford...

Sir Dave Brailsford is reportedly already working on revamping one of England's biggest football clubs — Manchester United.

That is the word from The Times who reports Brailsford — British Cycling's former performance director, Ineos Grenadiers general manager and current Ineos director of sport — has been tasked by Sir Jim Ratcliffe with overhauling the sporting side "to make them the number one club in the world once again".

The billionaire behind the petrochemicals giant — which has built a vast sporting empire, including title sponsorship of the WorldTour cycling team, a partnership with Mercedes' Formula One team and ownership of multiple football teams across Europe and Africa, French Ligue 1 outfit OGC Nice most prominently — has expressed interest in buying United from current owners, the Glazer family, but faces competition from a Qatari group fronted by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, the chairman of the Qatari Islamic Bank.

dave brailsford and chris froome ineos 2020

Despite the strong competition for the club, valued at £5 billion by the Glazers, The Times reports Ratcliffe has already instructed Brailsford to work on plans, opening conversations with best-of-class figures in recruitment, analysis, sports science and training ground infrastructure.

The newspaper also reports that a third unnamed group is involved in talks run by US investment bank Raine in Manchester, but Ratcliffe remains confident his bid, pitched as the sole English interest, will be successful.

Should the Ineos bid land, United fans will hope Brailsford, the figure behind the marginal gains philosophy, British Cycling's track golds and seven Sky/Ineos Tour de France titles, will enjoy greater success than in Nice where his restructuring of the French top flight club was described as "counterproductive" and littered with "mistakes" by one of the country's leading football journalists.

Egan Bernal and Dave Brailsford (via ITV Cycling on Twitter)

"He reminds me a little bit of Sir Clive Woodward when England won the rugby World Cup. He thought he could go into any sport, including football, and be successful and it just doesn't happen like that," Julien Laurens told a BBC podcast in October.

Nice's fortunes have improved somewhat since then, the club rising into the top half of the table in the months after it was reported Brailsford was living in a "luxury camper" at the training ground.

Criticising the club and Brailsford's recruitment, Laurens called some of the signings from England "silly", without logic and failing to "make much sense". A glowing reference then...

"Maybe you can make sense of it when you know Dave Brailsford is there. He clearly thinks he can do a good job in football," Laurens said. Despite today's reports, whether he will at United (or indeed be given the chance to) still remains to be seen.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Steve K | 1 year ago
1 like

It would be interesting to see whether the switch of sports would work.  It didn't go brilliantly for Clive Woodward when he switched from rugby to football.  (Though - and a bit niche - rugby league coach John Harbin had some success, for a short time, as part of Iain Dowie's coaching team at Crystal Palace!)

ShutTheFrontDawes replied to Steve K | 1 year ago

At Brailsford's level, I don't expect that much knowledge of the sport would actually be needed. Especially if he's expected to manage a cross-sport portfolio. I expect he will focus on creating a high performing management team and a 'culture' for success.

Steve K replied to ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago

(I think) that was what was expected of Woodward, too, wasn't it?  (Harbin was less of a good example - he was really about fitness training with a bit of cod psychology thrown in.)

Capt Sisko | 1 year ago

Rounder balls!

Rik Mayals unde... | 1 year ago
1 like

If he is successful in buying Man U, I wish Dave Brailsford the best of luck. Dealing with attentive cyclists will be a walk in the park compared to trying to tell the overpaid primadonnas what to do.

southseabythesea replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago

If he can teach them the mindset of a pro cyclist, maybe they won't dive and will be respectful to the ref (commissaire). Imagine that filtering through all clubs...not a chance.

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