British cycling team Ineos Grenadiers has parted ways with its manager and co-founder Sir Dave Brailsford according to recent reports, as the mastermind behind many cycling successes over the previous 15 years looks set to accept a new challenge: restoring Manchester United Football Club back to its glory days.
The news of Brailsford's departure had been imminent for the last few months, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire CEO of petrochemicals group Ineos with a mammoth sporting empire, including owning the French Ligue 1 side OGC Nice and having a significant stake in Mercedes-AMG's F1 team, finally managing to own 25 per cent of the club he's been a supporter of since his boyhood days, Manchester United.
In March, it was reported that Ratcliffe had already expressed his desire to rope in Brailsford for the United job, handing him the unenviable task of fishing the beleaguered club out of its latest miseries, even before he had completed the 25 per cent takeover, estimated to be around £1.2 billion.
The Telegraph has now reported that Brailsford, who also took up the role of Director of Sport at Ineos Sport to oversee Racliffe's entire sports portfolio in 2021, has now stepped away from the cycling team, with his name and image as the 'Team Principal' no longer visible on the team's website.
While the team has declined to comment, the newspaper also said that a spokesperson for Ineos Grenadiers has indicated the website had been undergoing updates to reflect some of the recent staff changes and that the removal of Brailsford’s name was not linked to any specific moment in time.
Brailsford's litany of successes at managing teams began with British Cycling, where he had the reins to Team Great Britain and steered them to back-to-back top-of-the-table medal finishes in 2008 and 2012 Olympics, besides also winning multiple world championships in road, track, BMX and mountain bike racing.
In 2009, he co-founded the British pro-cycling team Team Sky, and under Brailsford's leadership, the team embarked on a prolonged run of unprecedented triumphs, winning a total of 12 Grand Tours in a decade, including seven Tour de France yellow jerseys in eight years between 2012 and 2019, with Chris Froome, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas, and Egan Bernal.
However, the news also means that Team Ineos, struggling to find its footing in the past couple of years, will be without any of its original founding management staff, with Brailsford's deputy Rod Ellingworth also quitting the team in November last year amidst rumours of backroom tension.
Meanwhile, the news of Brailsford joining United has already stirred up a storm in the footballing world, with many fans and even pundits sceptical if the man who drilled his players into their best selves and made a name for improving things by 1 per cent through his now-famous marginal gains philosophy is the right man for the job.
As Erik Ten Hag's Red Devils continue to look like a shadow of their previous selves, fans have asked if turning to Brailsford, who Ratcliffe wants on a three-person football committee, would be the right decision, considering his previous experience with football at Nice weren't the best. In fact, it was described as "counterproductive" and littered with "mistakes" by one of the country's leading football journalists.
And while the echo chambers of football fans can be a dark rabbit hole to down into, one of the loudest censures of Brailsford came from two former professional football players and managers — Paul Merson and Dean Saunders — both of them banging on the idea that the ideal person for the job must come from a "football background" on live television and radio respectively.
Dean Saunders even went ahead and called the whole thing a "nonsense", saying that "you can have as many laptops as you want... football has to come from within".
“I wouldn’t have a cycling expert!” 😱❌
“Football comes from within. You can have as many laptops as you like.. It’s nonsense!”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) December 27, 2023
road.cc has contacted Ineos Grenadiers for comment.
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.