Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to take guidance from Sir Alex Ferguson as he prepares to undertake a radical overhaul of Manchester United.
That would be a boost to Crystal Palace sporting director Dougie Freedman’s hopes of landing a job at Old Trafford, as the Scot is a long-term ally of Ferguson, although Telegraph Sport can disclose that he is not the only sporting director on Ratcliffe’s list.
While Freedman is thought to be admired by Ferguson and former Tottenham Hotspur recruitment chief Paul Mitchell has been linked with United, it is understood that Atalanta’s Lee Congerton, former AC Milan pair Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara, and Atletico Madrid’s Andrea Berta are also under consideration.
Jean-Claude Blanc, a leading figure at Ineos Sport, is in the running to replace Richard Arnold as chief executive ahead of Ratcliffe’s imminent purchase of a 25 per cent stake in United.
Ratcliffe wants to drastically improve United’s football operation and sources claim he is expected to lean on legendary Old Trafford manager Ferguson, 81, for advice and guidance over some matters.
That could include helping to choose a new director of football with John Murtough’s position believed to be vulnerable. Freedman used to be a neighbour of Ferguson in Cheshire before taking his current job at Palace in 2017.
Freedman also spent time with Ferguson in his office at Old Trafford in 2011, when he was manager of Palace and Ferguson was still in charge at United.
Other than the pair’s relationship, Freedman’s eye for a deal will have caught Ferguson’s attention, with Palace signing the likes of Eberechi Eze, Marc Guehi and Michael Olise, as well as arranging the loan deal for Conor Gallagher.
United have been in decline since Ferguson’s retirement and using his expertise would certainly be a popular move by Ratcliffe with the club’s fans, who still worship the multiple trophy winner.
Congerton is head of recruitment at Serie A club Atalanta, having held similar roles at Leicester City, Celtic, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion. He was appointed as a youth team coach by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and also worked for the club as a chief scout.
Maldini and Massara were sacked by AC Milan this summer after reportedly falling out with owner Gerry Cardinale. Maldini in particular played a key role in Milan’s signing of England international defender Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea.
Berta has been at Atletico Madrid for 10 years and has been linked with United in the past, having presided over one of the most successful periods in the Spanish club’s history, during which they won La Liga twice, the Europa League and the Super Cup.