Sir Dave Brailsford is reportedly already working on revamping one of England's biggest football clubs — Manchester United.
That is the word from The Times who reports Brailsford — British Cycling's former performance director, Ineos Grenadiers general manager and current Ineos director of sport — has been tasked by Sir Jim Ratcliffe with overhauling the sporting side "to make them the number one club in the world once again".
The billionaire behind the petrochemicals giant — which has built a vast sporting empire, including title sponsorship of the WorldTour cycling team, a partnership with Mercedes' Formula One team and ownership of multiple football teams across Europe and Africa, French Ligue 1 outfit OGC Nice most prominently — has expressed interest in buying United from current owners, the Glazer family, but faces competition from a Qatari group fronted by Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, the chairman of the Qatari Islamic Bank.
Despite the strong competition for the club, valued at £5 billion by the Glazers, The Times reports Ratcliffe has already instructed Brailsford to work on plans, opening conversations with best-of-class figures in recruitment, analysis, sports science and training ground infrastructure.
The newspaper also reports that a third unnamed group is involved in talks run by US investment bank Raine in Manchester, but Ratcliffe remains confident his bid, pitched as the sole English interest, will be successful.
Should the Ineos bid land, United fans will hope Brailsford, the figure behind the marginal gains philosophy, British Cycling's track golds and seven Sky/Ineos Tour de France titles, will enjoy greater success than in Nice where his restructuring of the French top flight club was described as "counterproductive" and littered with "mistakes" by one of the country's leading football journalists.
"He reminds me a little bit of Sir Clive Woodward when England won the rugby World Cup. He thought he could go into any sport, including football, and be successful and it just doesn't happen like that," Julien Laurens told a BBC podcast in October.
Nice's fortunes have improved somewhat since then, the club rising into the top half of the table in the months after it was reported Brailsford was living in a "luxury camper" at the training ground.
Criticising the club and Brailsford's recruitment, Laurens called some of the signings from England "silly", without logic and failing to "make much sense". A glowing reference then...
"Maybe you can make sense of it when you know Dave Brailsford is there. He clearly thinks he can do a good job in football," Laurens said. Despite today's reports, whether he will at United (or indeed be given the chance to) still remains to be seen.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.