The remarkable power struggle behind Matt Judge’s exit from Manchester United has today been laid bare, leaving agents and players scrambling to change their approaches to the club ahead of a hectic summer of business.
Judge, United’s director of football negotiations, is currently working his notice period and will leave Old Trafford later this year. As a result, he is not expected to be involved in any of the Red Devils’ moves in the next window.
In recent weeks, the club have undergone a substantial backroom shuffle and Judge’s exit has left John Murtough, their football director, in charge of recruitment.
Matt Judge (pictured behind Ed Woodward) will leave Manchester United later this year
John Murtough (L) will take the lead in recruitment after becoming the club’s football director
However, the issues beneath the surface at United have now been revealed, with The Athletic reporting that Ed Woodward’s own departure, as well Murtough’s promotion, culminated in a situation where Judge chose to step away.
The outlet claim that those close to the club believe Judge’s position became ‘uncertain’ after Woodward left. The pair, whose working relationship dated back to their days at JP Morgan, were closely aligned over thrashing out transfers.
Indeed, Woodward is said to have given his colleague instructions over deals and also set out parameters for the talks. But once the former CEO left in late January, the guidance lessened, leading to frustrations arising on Judge’s part.
Former CEO Woodward worked closely with Judge, but Richard Arnold (R) is more distanced
It is also said that Murtough’s move up the ladder was ‘tough’ for Judge to deal with.
The arrival of Richard Arnold, Woodward’s successor, saw Judge’s dynamics at United change – with the finance supremo not having a direct line to his new boss.
He then chose to resign, a bombshell decision taken while he successfully wrapped up discussions for Erik ten Hag to become the club’s next manager.
With Judge to take a step back from speaking to players and their representatives, agents will be forced to change how they speak with United ahead of the summer. For many of them, he was their first contact – albeit one heavily criticised.
The departure of Woodward, as well as changes to how he worked, led to Judge leaving
Judge’s departure was met by a positive reaction from United supporters, and The Athletic have also reported that this was ‘partly echoed’ inside the Old Trafford walls.
A number of sources have told the publication that Judge is largely responsible for United’s failed scattergun approach to spending over the past decade.
With him at the helm, the club missed out on signing Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham, despite them being well-placed to seal deals for both players.
They also failed to sign Joao Cancelo, who went on to join Manchester City.
Judge took on a prominent role in sealing the deal for Erik ten Hag’s to become United’s boss
But despite this, Woodward insisted that Judge’s experience of handling banking deals made him the perfect candidate to deal with the wild world of football.
Intriguingly, he was also described as having a good poker face.
United are expected to overhaul their scouting network this summer, having confirmed that Jim Lawlor and Marcel Bout left earlier this month.
Marcel Bout, United’s former head of global scouting, left Old Trafford as part of the reshuffle
Lawlor, 57, was chief scout for 16 years, after arriving under Sir Alex Ferguson.
He was given a new role six years ago which saw him oversee an expanded network of scouts, but this system is expected to change again this summer.
Bout, meanwhile, joined as part of Louis van Gaal’s backroom team in 2014. He was then appointed United’s head of global scouting two years later.