football

Jason Wilcox: Manchester United confirm appointment of former Southampton chief as technical director

Manchester United have confirmed the appointment of former Southampton chief Jason Wilcox as the club's new technical director with immediate effect.

Wilcox will work with all technical areas of the football department to "achieve the highest standards of performance", the Old Trafford club said in a statement.

Southampton also released a statement to confirm they have "reluctantly" allowed Wilcox to join United after reaching an agreement on an "acceptable compensation fee".

Sky Sports News broke the news earlier his month that United had approached Saints and there was a dispute over the terms of his release, which United believed they had met by offering the equivalent of a year of his salary.

Southampton disputed the existence of the relevant clause and were angered that Wilcox had been unsettled as they chase promotion.

United believed they had been respectful and followed correct processes throughout their pursuit.

New United chief executive Omar Berrada knows Wilcox well from their time together at Manchester City, where Wilcox worked his way up from coach to academy director.

Berrada wants the former winger, who won the Premier League with Blackburn in 1995, to form a crucial part of the new recruitment set-up at Old Trafford; and to be guided, eventually, by sporting director-elect Dan Ashworth.

Ashworth is also the subject of talks over a compensation agreement with Newcastle, who have put him on a substantial period of gardening leave that may yet delay his official start until after the summer transfer window.

United are also thought to be looking to add someone in a role that is likely to oversee player pathways throughout the INEOS group, which includes clubs Nice in France and Lausanne in Switzerland.

John Murtough stepped down as football director at Old Trafford last week but it is understood Darren Fletcher will continue to play a key role in the football leadership team working across the men's first team and academy.

Sky Sports senior football journalist Peter Smith:

Jason Wilcox has a clear vision of football. He stands by it and everything he does relates back to it.

That's the lasting impression he left on colleagues at Manchester City, where he spent 11 years at the club, working his way up from being a coach to becoming academy director, where he recruited and developed some of the best young talent in the world.

Phil Foden rose through the ranks under his watch. Cole Palmer, too. And of course, a certain Jadon Sancho. The Manchester United winger made his debut for Wilcox's U18s as a 15-year-old and scored twice inside five minutes. Wilcox remembers it well and will surely look to help Sancho re-find that magic at Old Trafford next season.

That talented trio - and many others - thrived in Wilcox's enjoyable but elite environment, where his demands on what his players did on the pitch were matched by his demands in terms of their behaviours and standards off it. Be a good player but a good person, too.

Wilcox is personable, someone who remembers details about players and staff - but also a standard-setter who challenges those around him to raise their levels.

"He enabled us to be the leaders we want to be," was the verdict of Southampton head coach Russell Martin when asked about Wilcox's impact at the club. Wilcox started his work there last summer and while his tenure on the south coast was ultimately short, a changed culture around the training ground and club-record unbeaten streak on the pitch is testament to his skills.

He had overall control at Southampton across the first team, women's team, academies and recruitment department as director of football. As he heads back to Manchester, what can United supporters expect him to bring to the club as technical director?

The remit for the 1995 Premier League winner will be more focused but that clear vision he has will be central.

A first-team squad packed with academy graduates - and preferably Mancunians - was his aim at City. It's an ambition United supporters will revel in.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has stated United's aim is to find and develop the next Kylian Mbappe rather than buy the current one. In Wilcox he has a leader with the passion, experience and track record of giving United the best chance of doing just that.

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