Matt Judge has resigned from his role as the head of corporate development at Manchester United, a piece of news that has delighted Reds fans across the world as the structural reshuffle at Old Trafford continues.
Judge, who joined the club in 2012 as an influential background figure, has often been branded a big factor in relation to the club’s lack of success during the post-Ferguson era. He is widely understood to have been Ed Woodward’s right-hand man in recent years, and this was exemplified when Woodward delegated the responsibility of contract and transfer negotiations to Judge in 2016.
Since this delegation of responsibility, fans have seen the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Harry Maguire arrive at the club for over £75m apiece, and it is difficult to forget Alexis Sanchez’s transfer, a deal that made the Chilean the highest earner in Premier League history at the time; Lukaku was booed by United fans whilst wearing a Chelsea shirt the other night, Maguire is having a time out amid bomb threats, with Sanchez having scored just the 3 league goals in a United shirt. It is fair to say that Judge made a few wrong judgements during his time in power.
These are just a few high-profile examples of transfer failures since 2016, but fans will never forget other baffling signings. For all his smiles and positivity, Eric Bailly has had an injury-ridden career during his time with the club, as has Edison Cavani, and you would think that the head of transfer negotiations would have had research done into the fitness history of these players. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Fred cost nearly £100m combined. The former is linked to a loan move back to Crystal Palace, and the latter is widely renowned for being a bench player at best.
Judge has a master’s degree in economics and finance, as well as over a decade’s experience in investment banking, which is quite ironic when you look at the hundreds of millions of pounds that he has thrown down the drain.
Matt Judge’s Manchester United signings
Here is a look at the transfer incomings that Judge has overseen. It is worth considering the quality of these players, how much they cost, how many minutes they play, how often they are injured and whether or not they are even here anymore…
Eric Bailly (£30m from Villarreal, June 2016)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (free from Paris Saint-Germain, July 2016)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£26m from Borussia Dortmund, July 2016)
Paul Pogba (£89m from Juventus, August 2016)
Victor Lindelof (£30m from Benfica, July 2017)
Romelu Lukaku (£75m from Everton, July 2017)
Nemanja Matic (£40m from Chelsea, July 2017)
Alexis Sanchez (swap deal with Arsenal involving Mkhitaryan, January 2018)
Diogo Dalot (£17.4m from Porto, July 2018)
Fred (£52m from Porto, July 2018)
Lee Grant (£1.5m from Stoke, July 2018)
Paul Woolston (free from Newcastle United, November 2018)
Daniel James (£17m from Swansea, July 2019)
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£45m from Crystal Palace, July 2019)
Harry Maguire (£80m from Leicester, August 2019)
Bruno Fernandes (£56.7m from Sporting Lisbon, January 2020)
Donny van de Beek (£35m from Ajax, August 2020)
Alex Telles (£15m from Porto, October 2020)
Facundo Pellistri (£9m from Penarol, October 2020)
Edinson Cavani (free from PSG, October 2020)
Amad (£33m from Atalanta, January 2021)
Jadon Sancho (£73m from Borussia Dortmund, July 2021)
Raphael Varane (£34m from Real Madrid, July 2021)
Tom Heaton (free from Aston Villa, July 2021)
Cristiano Ronaldo (£13m from Juventus, August 2021)
Judge is set to work out a notice period until a later date of this year, with the relationship between himself and the club hierarchy amicable and respectful, but it is widely understood that he will not have a prominent role in negotiating transfers this Summer.
Manchester United revolution continues
The resignation comes months after Woodward- the executive vice-chairman and effectively the chief executive of Manchester United between 2012 and 2022- left the club on February 1st of this year. It was announced that Woodward would leave in April 2021 following immense backlash to the European Super League plans, which he apparently knew nothing about. Let that sink in the CEO of Manchester United supposedly knew nothing about the business in which he operates entering a European franchise that would change the face of football history forever. Not too sure about that one!
Judge and Woodward have been symbolic of United’s demise under the Glazer ownership. One clueless and incompetent decision has followed another, which has transferred into a lack of on-field success where you can count the number of players worth keeping on your left hand.
The exodus does not end there, however, with Jim Lawlor (former chief scout) and Marcel Bout (former head of global scouting) both out the door. Lawlor joined United in 2005 as part of the scouting team but became chief scout in 2014 when Louis Van Gaal arrived at the club. Bout was brought in as a coach under Van Gaal, eventually moving into the scouting system.
The case of Bout is a classic example of the ‘jobs for the boys’ mentality that has poisoned the club during the Glazer tenure. How is it that a first-team football coach becomes the club’s most influential figure in global scouting? The lack of shrewd, under the radar signings that the club have made, indicates that Bout was probably not qualified to have such a powerful role. The majority of signings that the club make are either very well-known or blatantly obvious deals to complete.
“Again, we just need to look into the other top clubs, the other top clubs in England and also in other countries in Europe. What kind of players did they sign in the past? I think then you get the answer yourself.” These were the words of Ralf Rangnick when asked about the sort of players that United should be aiming to sign in his pre-match press conference for the Brentford fixture. He inadvertently says that the club should aim to sign the opposite of what Lawlor and Bout have identified in the last few years.
Woodward’s void as chief executive was filled by Richard Arnold, another villainous name in the context of United’s demise. Unlike Woodward, though, who is renowned for being a bit of a control freak, it is widely believed that Arnold is happy to delegate the footballing side of things over to John Murtough, who essentially acts as a football director behind the scenes. He will be helped by Rangnick, who will act as a guiding figure in academy and recruitment based on what he has told the media, and likely Darren Fletcher, who despite his lack of qualifications does seem to be a respected associate of Murtough.
It appears that Erik Ten Hag will have a respectable team to work with, which is encouraging as past managers have never had such support. Reports say that Ten Hag only accepted the job with the promise that he has a big say in big decisions, another privilege that managers have not been entitled to in the past.
These are just the names that the public knows about, and it is reported that lots of lesser-known figures are set to be replaced that fans will be unaware of.
The proof will ultimately be in the pudding, but there appears to be a significant structural and cultural shift going on at Manchester United that the fans can get behind.