Sir Dave Brailsford, one of the masterminds behind British Cycling, Team Sky and Ineos' cycling success over the past 15 years, could soon call Old Trafford home, reports from the football world suggesting Ineos petrochemicals' billionaire CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants his man on a three-person football committee should his bid to buy part of the Premier League club be successful.
Since Ratcliffe bought Team Sky in 2019, controversially renaming the cycling team after his company's Ineos Grenadier 4x4 vehicle, Brailsford has moved away from solely focusing on cycling, being appointed Ineos' director of sport two years ago, and has been involved in another of the sporting empire's football interests, French Ligue 1 side OGC Nice.
And while the club currently sit second in the table, unbeaten after the opening eight matches of the 2023-24 season, Brailsford's transition to football was far from plain sailing. This time last year reports emerging that he was living out of a caravan at the team's training ground, French football journalist Julien Laurens saying Brailsford had made "a lot of mistakes at Nice" and had been "very much counterproductive to what the project is and what it should be".
It is perhaps that sentiment behind much of the meltdown that has been heard among parts of Manchester United's online fanbase since the link aired this week, the latest instalment in the seemingly never-ending circus around who will buy the club from the Glazer family.
In March, it was reported that Ratcliffe wanted Brailsford to be heavily involved should his bid be successful, the former cycling team boss believed to be Ratcliffe's man to overhaul the sporting side "to make them the number one club in the world once again".
Now, with Qatar's Sheikh Jassim exiting the race to buy the club, Ratcliffe's £1.3bn deal for a quarter of the Premier League club has again made headlines, Brailsford, Ratcliffe and Joel Glazer touted for the three-man football committee in charge of the sporting side of the club.
"A cycling coach?"
But how has the news one down with the club's fanbase? A bit like a 250km sprint stage in the third week of a Grand Tour, to keep things cycling-related...
🚨 JUST IN: It’s almost certain that Sir Dave Brailsford will play a KEY ROLE at Manchester United going forward!
🚨 Former general director of PSG and CEO of Juventus Jean-Claude Blanc could be set for a KEY ROLE at Manchester United under Sir Jim Ratcliffe! [SkyKaveh]
— United 4Fans (@United4fans) October 17, 2023
There is a bit of a theme, one fan suggesting the club stick to "bringing in football people for football positions", another simply asking if Brailsford was "A CYCLING COACH?" (Yes, all in capitals, and yes he was a pretty good one too).
Plenty of hysteria around the decision, one Manchester United fan account with 17,000 followers declaring a potential Brailsford involvement "the end" and "the last nail in Manchester United's coffin". Don't get too down, you might win Tour de Romandie first?
Another major account called the link "madness", but it wasn't all bad...
🚨🚴Sir Dave Brailsford - What will he bring to Manchester United
These are some of the key reasons why Manchester United fans should look forward to Sir Dave Brailsford being involved in the sporting committee
Sir Dave Brailsford's revolutionary 'Marginal Gains' theory, which… pic.twitter.com/KhyjvzTQbn
— Chris Antony (@ChrisFootyScoop) October 19, 2023
On the list: Culture of continuous improvement, attention to detail, data-driven decisions, creating competitive edge, adaptability... you might even get to see Harry Maguire on a Pinarello too? No need for trophies when you've got that...
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.