Jim Lawlor and Marcel Bout, Manchester United’s two chiefs scouts, have both departed Old Trafford after the Red Devils were thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool amid criticism of their transfer business
The Red Devils’ chiefs scout, Jim Lawlor, and Marcel Bout, who was head of global scouting, have both departed Old Trafford. The news comes less than 24 hours after old foes Liverpool brutally reaffirmed how far United are behind the best in the business when it comes to recruitment and transfers, and amid the impending appointment of new boss Erik ten Hag.
Lawlor has been with the Red Devils for 17 years and earned a promotion to chief scout in 2014. Meanwhile, Bout arrived under former manager Louis van Gaal, having initially been employed as a coach before moving into the club’s worldwide scouting network.
In a statement, via the Athletic, United confirmed: “Jim Lawlor has decided to step down from his role as Chief Scout in the Summer after 16 years with the club. During that time, Jim played a key role in the development of multiple trophy-winning Manchester United teams and was an important source of guidance to Sir Alex Ferguson and each of the managers who have followed him.
“Jim leaves the club with our warmest thanks for his significant contribution and our very best wishes for the future. Marcel Bout has departed from his role as Head of Global Scouting after eight years with the club.
“A respected figure within and outside of Manchester United, Marcel has played an important part as an assistant coach and in the strengthening of our scouting capabilities in recent years. Marcel leaves the club with our warmest thanks for his significant contribution and our very best wishes for the future.”
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The departures signal a change of direction in the Red Devils’ recruitment department, which has been heavily criticised since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. John Murtough now has full control of football operations and is said to have been a driving force in some of the behind-the-scenes movement.
United’s poor track record on the transfer front has been evident over the course of this season, none more so than at Anfield on Tuesday. Despite boasting a significantly cheaper squad, Jurgen Klopp ‘s side thrashed Ralf Rangnick ‘s, forcing the Red Devils interim manager – who will begin a consultancy role at the club this summer when Ten Hag begins work – to admit that United are “six years” behind their tormentors.
“It is embarrassing, it is disappointing, maybe even humiliating,” Rangnick told reporters after the loss. “We have to accept they are six years ahead of us now. When Jurgen Klopp came [in October 2015] they changed at the club and lifted not just the team but the club and city to a new level. That is what needs to happen with us in the next transfer windows.”
Former captain Gary Neville had his say and declared on Sky Sports : “Coming to the recruitment side and what they’ve done over last 10 years. What United have done is bring players in with piano introductions like [Alexis] Sanchez or [Paul] Pogba. They’ve elevated the player above the manager at the football club. You go to Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City the manager is the primary figure at the football club.
“They’ve undermined managers over the last 10 years at Man United by elevating the players to this god-like status and the players haven’t performed. The players could do better, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could’ve done better, Rangnick maybe could’ve done better.”
After discussing issues with the Glazer family’s ownership, Neville concluded: “Fundamentally the club is broken on and off the pitch. The stadium is falling apart, the training ground is falling back to second rate compared to other grounds. The owners are taking £25m out a year when the club need investment.”