It goes without saying that the old notion at United that the club would simply continue to thrive, has been well and truly disproved by the last nine years and, as each season goes by, so the roadmap becomes that little harder.
This week brought more departures from the club. The academy coach Neil Ryan was the latest to depart. He joins those highest profile departures including Jim Lawlor and Marcel Bout from an enormous scouting department in the process of being streamlined. The coaches Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna and Martyn Pert all departed at the aftermath of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer farewell. Of the remaining group, Eric Ramsay is Ten Hag’s choice to join his assistants. At Old Trafford, the latest out is Patrick Coyle, who went under the title chief of staff, following others such as head of corporate finance Hemen Tseayo, transfer negotiator Matt Judge, and, before that, the previous man on the throne, executive vice -Chairman Ed Woodward.
When Rangnick relinquishes his interim duties, his staff of three will go too, and there will no doubt be more. Football clubs are by their nature places of rapid change when circumstances dictate but this is still a significant moment in the life of United.
Murtough answers to the new chief executive Richard Arnold, the chief conduit to the Glazers. There was no major push from United to appoint a big name from among the directors of football who have built reputations for themselves in the game. Dan Ashworth has departed Brighton and Hove Albion for Newcastle United. Michael Edwards will leave Liverpool for a career break after the Champions League final. United have approached Andy O’Boyle, the head of elite performance at the Premier League, but that would be to fill the deputy director of football role, junior to Murtough.
O’Boyle, who coached at United’s academy 16 years ago, has an expertise in sports science and fitness, and worked in that field at the Football Association and Liverpool in recent years. If it is to be him or someone of a similar stripe, then it would suggest that part of the club is one that United wish to address with a senior appointment.
Of the least immediate concern will be their academy which has been a shining light even through the post-Ferguson era and the FA Youth Cup victory last week will have been a welcome distraction for the club. Yet if there is one lesson learned it is that nothing can be taken for granted. There is also the question of how United deal with whatever comes from the Mason Greenwood episode.
Murtough came back from Amsterdam on Thursday in time to watch Tottenham Hotspur’s win over Arsenal that evening from the hospitality box of one of the biggest agencies in the game. The first post-Ajax meeting with Ten Hag will have been a major milestone in the great rebuild of United, but it really is only one of many along the way. As ever in football’s complicated, volatile world, events require adaptations to be made. Even so, if ever there was a club in need of a detailed plan to get to where it needs to be, then it is United.