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A final silver bullet? Why Jean-Claude Blanc a last shot for Man Utd revival

COMMENT: He's made for the job. This job. He really is. Jean-Claude Blanc. No man is better credentialed to help Manchester United rediscover it's potential. If ever there was a dead cert, it must be the Frenchman becoming the club's new CEO...

That there's still doubts about the Frenchman's appointment is crazy. Though, for United fans, they should be encouraged seeing Blanc part of that INEOS delegation spotted at Old Trafford last week. As we say, if United are to navigate a way out of this meandering 10-year malaise, Blanc - for this column - is their one silver bullet.

He's made for this job. A rebuild. A revival. The awakening of a sleeping giant. Blanc did it with a relegated Juventus. He then oversaw PSG's emergence from one of many, to the single dominant force in French football. He's seen it. Lived it. And come out the other side with reputation enhanced. United, perhaps, would be his toughest challenge. Though it could be argued the mess he took on at a relegated Juve was actually more desperate. It's bold, we'll admit it, but for this column, in terms of English football, Jean-Claude Blanc can be as transformative for United as Jurgen Klopp has been for Liverpool - and he'd achieve the turnaround in shorter time...

Or at least, he'd die trying. Blanc has spoken in the past about taking on the crisis he'd inherited in Turin. It was all about those "first 100 days". Making decisions. Long-term decisions. To set the foundations for on and off field success.

“You arrive in this environment that is necessarily dynamic, because you have a mountain of problems to deal with at once," Blanc would recall to the FT some eight years ago, while still running things at PSG.

Practically 100 days are decisive for the club's future. If you make a bad decision in those 100 days, it's over. Then it would take 20 years to return. In those 100 days we took many good decisions."

So there'll be no settling in period. He won't want one. There'll be no time. It'll be action stations from the off. Just the tonic for this lumbering giant.

And they are lumbering. Spluttering. Saturday at home against Bournemouth proof enough of that. It's baffling. Even maddening. But it's also United. The modern United. Player of the Month in Harry Maguire. Manager of the Month in Erik ten Hag. Even Alejandro Garnacho took the Prem's Goal of the Month. A clear sign of the outstanding November United had enjoyed in the league. Yet against the Cherries they were poor. Lifeless. Typically Manchester United. It was yet another false dawn exposed.

But the cavalry are coming... we think. With no word from either the club nor INEOS, there's still a lingering doubt about whether Blanc will replace the departed Richard Arnold as the club's chief exec. He should. Indeed, we'd argue he must. But this is Manchester United 2023. And even with a dead cert as Blanc represents, there is still the possibility the hiring doesn't happen.

Regulars of this column will know we've been championing Blanc's name for this post. In the past we've highlighted Blanc's commercial achievements, particularly overseeing the new stadium for Juventus. Given the plans United are now pushing through for Old Trafford, it's simply another reason why Blanc is the right fit.

But his expertise will also reach the pitch. To be fair, football wasn't Blanc's first sporting love. But he's grown into it. Much like Sir Jim Ratcliffe, he's a sportsman. But also a football man. He oversaw the rebuilding of Juve in all aspects - including putting in place the foundations of that nine-time Scudetti winning era. This included Juve's then GM going out of his way to convince an unsettled Gigi Buffon to reject an offer from AC Milan.

“We did a presentation for Gigi in the big trophy hall," Blanc recalls. "We did the same work as for convincing a sponsor to join us. We built a presentation around him. Why he was significant in the club's history. Why he would be the next captain.

"Why we were going to return to the top of Serie A and win everything. Why he would play another Champions League final. The place of the goalkeeper in Juve's history. And why he was fairly central to our project."

He'll be involved in everything at United - and will be prepared. The 60 year-old always hands-on.

“It's lots of professionalism," Blanc would describe his approach at PSG, "managing 350 people, managing a brand worldwide, welcoming 1.3m people a year to arenas in Paris. If tomorrow somebody falls on the stairs at the Parc des Princes [PSG's stadium], the responsible person is me."

Aymeric Mantoux, who worked in PSG's comms department, said of his old boss: "He knew that PSG was a club where people were always going to look for lice in the head.

"He is a quiet force, never in conflict or under stress. Even in difficult times, he never got angry. He knew that this was the lot of a big club."

Blanc and Manchester United. He's made for the job. He really is. If ever United have found their silver bullet, then Jean-Claude Blanc is it.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie


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