sport news has been papering over the cracks for years so paying $25m to ... trends now

sport news has been papering over the cracks for years so paying $25m to ... trends now
sport news Manchester United has been papering over the cracks for years so paying $25m to ... trends now

sport news Manchester United has been papering over the cracks for years so paying $25m to ... trends now

The sporting director is the epicenter of a club. They are trusted by billionaire owners to bridge the gap between what happens in the boardroom and what happens on the field.

They are trusted to create a plan, spend money wisely, and put that plan in motion: what are we going to be about? Are we going to be youth based? Are we going to chase the world’s top players? Once you’ve chosen your path, you can't deviate. You can’t be knee-jerk. You have to trust in the plan. 

It's an incredibly important role and it’s all encompassing – as I’ve found out over the last few years working as sporting director of Memphis 901! 

Believe me, soccer players are temperamental and insecure. When there are excuses on offer, players will take them. 

I played in teams where results weren't good, the manager was a bit off or, organizationally, things weren't where they needed to be. And when players sit in the locker room, that is all they will talk about. 

Manchester United sits sixth in the Premier League - 16 points off leaders and rivals Liverpool

Manchester United sits sixth in the Premier League - 16 points off leaders and rivals Liverpool

The Old Trafford club is looking to hire Dan Ashworth (pictured) as its new sporting director

The Old Trafford club is looking to hire Dan Ashworth (pictured) as its new sporting director

Former United goalkeeper Tim Howard believes $25million for Ashworth is small change

Former United goalkeeper Tim Howard believes $25million for Ashworth is small change

But in an organization that is run smoothly and is all about excellence, you think: I better make sure I'm on the boil. Because if performances aren't right, it's on me. You almost feel guilty not falling into line. 

When I first got to Manchester United in 2003, everything was taken care of. We were almost pampered, but the United way was simple: look after your players so much - on and off the pitch - that their only focus is performing in training and in games. Nothing else. 

Back then, it was seamless. But United has not got that right for a while. Instead, the club has just papered over the cracks: bring in a new manager, bring in new players. But that wasn't the issue: it was at the top. Which is why it would be such a coup if United hires Dan Ashworth

He has had success elsewhere – it was on Ashworth’s watch that Brighton unearthed gems such as Moises Caicedo, Leandro Trossard and Kaoru Mitoma. And then, with a big budget at Newcastle, he found the likes of Alexander Isak and Sven Botman.

Sure, he won’t be able to sprinkle fairy dust around Old Trafford and fix everything. But the sporting director has always been the key cog - particularly at Manchester United. 

So if Newcastle want £20million to let him go, that is small change. Instead of spending £100m on a striker, when he plays in a dysfunctional team, I'd rather pay £20m for a guy who can create an ethos and a holistic way of running the club. 

Fulham compounded United's misery this season by winning at Old Trafford over the weekend

Fulham compounded United's misery this season by winning at Old Trafford over the weekend

Manager Erik ten Hag is under pressure, with the Premier League giants eight points off fourth

Manager Erik ten Hag is under pressure, with the Premier League giants eight points off fourth

Don't pay it, and United will still be in the same position - getting played off the park by Luton and losing at home to Fulham. Appoint Ashworth, give him the support he needs, and I have no doubt that United will be back - in a very short period of time. 

Title contenders in two or three years? It’s certainly possible. 

First, though, Ashworth has to change the environment. When running a club, you find out that everything is important. And everything frustrates you! 

You are tasked with bringing the right players in. That means sorting contracts, scouting at games or on tape. It's also on the sporting director to streamline the operation: are the current crop his style of players? Some will have to be pushed out of the door as Sir Jim Ratcliffe tries to raise $130m with a summer clearout. And is Erik ten Hag his manager? 

Those are the big questions. But a lot of your time is spent almost babysitting - making sure that everybody is manageable and everybody feels like things are moving in the right direction. 

Ashworth was placed on gardening leave by Newcastle United earlier this month

Ashworth was placed on gardening leave by Newcastle United earlier this month

I always tell our coaches and players: give me your gripes. If something's important to you, I'll fix what I can. And everything is important to them! 

Managers will moan about the training ground and the roster. They’ll ask for more perks for the players - maybe we’d been in a hotel that people didn't like, or people need more nights at home. Maybe you can feel budgets being cut and the quality of food isn't as good as before. 

People on the outside will think: just go kick the ball, stop with all this other stuff - the smell of the dressing room or what kind of chicken you're having for lunch. But on the inside, you realize every ounce of

read more from dailymail.....

NEXT Goal of the year contender and 15-year-old rising star combine to hand City the ...