Saturday 16 December 2017

Leading scout turns down United move

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

James Ducker and John Percy

Manchester United have suffered a setback in the revamp of their academy set-up, after West Bromwich Albion's chief talent-spotter rejected the chance to join the club.

Steve Hopcroft, Albion's highly-regarded head of academy recruitment, will sign a new deal with the Midlands club after deciding to turn down a similar role at Old Trafford because of the financial package on offer.

Hopcroft is thought to have been offered less money than he stood to earn by staying at the Hawthorns, and rebuffed United on Monday, the same day that the Manchester club announced record revenues of £515.3 m, the highest in British football history.

United are overhauling their scouting network and Hopcroft had been headhunted as part of a shake-up of the department under academy chief Nicky Butt, the former United midfielder.

United's former head of recruitment, Derek Langley, left the club in July after 16 years and Butt has been eager to find a talent-spotter who can help them unearth the next Marcus Rashford.

But in a blow to United's plans, Hopcroft, 49, who has brought through the likes of Saido Berahino, Isaiah Brown, Jerome Sinclair, Jonathan Leko and Sam Field during his nine years at West Brom, believes that his interests will be best served by remaining in the Midlands.

The United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward had ordered a root-and-branch review of the club's academy, amid accusations that the development of the talent pool generated within the club's youth set-up had slowed.

Meanwhile, Mark Hughes has been charged with misconduct by the FA after Stoke's 4-0 defeat to Tottenham. Hughes was sent to the stands after showing his displeasure at a decision to book winger Marko Arnautovic for diving. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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