Manchester United have rarely managed to get one over on their cross-town rivals Manchester City in recent years – though they may well have managed just that by poaching one of the key members of their hierarchy.
Omar Berrada has been announced by United as the club’s new chief executive, meaning he will leaving his post as chief football operations officer for City Football Group, which oversees City and several other clubs around the world.
It is one of the first big moves made by the INEOS group and new shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose bid to own 25% of United and oversee the club’s football operations is in the process of being completed.
A United statement read: “The Club is determined to put football and performance on the pitch back at the heart of everything we do. Omar’s appointment represents the first step on this journey.
“As one of the most experienced football executives at the top of European football, Omar brings a wealth of football and commercial expertise, with a proven record of successful leadership and a passion to help lead change across the Club.
“It is our stated ambition to re-establish Manchester United as a title-winning club. We are pleased that Omar will be joining us to help achieve that goal, so that, once again, United fans can see, in the words of Sir Matt Busby, the red flag flying high at the summit of English, European and world football.”
Given Berrada has been with City for more than a decade, it is fair to say he has backed the blue half of Manchester over the red one in that time – and his past social media posts are clear evidence of this.
Berrada previously posted about United on the social media network X, formerly Twitter, and he is yet to delete the posts about his soon-to-be employers.
Back in early February 2012, Berrada was watching United take on Chelsea in a game which ended 3-3 and he made it clear which side he wanted to see triumph.
He wrote: “Stuck at the airport ’cause of snow delays. Killing time watching Man United vs Chelsea on my iPad via Sky go. And hoping for a ManU loss…”
After Fernando Torres set up Juan Mata for the London side, he added: “Goal! Chelsea 2-0 Manchester United. Oh yeah! Viva la Spanish Connection!”
A year later in 2013, he wrote about the 1999 Champions League final in which United came from behind late on to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in a dramatic finale at the Camp Nou. But Berrada insisted the German side were the better team.
He wrote: “Watching the Man Utd vs Bayern 1999 UCL final on ESPN Classic. I had forgotten how much Bayern really deserved to win that match.”
And his most recent critical tweet came in 2014 a year after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement and the fall from grace United experienced under David Moyes.
He wrote: “Manchester United: How did they get into this mess?”
The tweets are yet to be deleted – so there might be some mildly awkward conversations when Berrada walks through the door at Old Trafford to take up his new post.