There is one man behind the shambles​ that is Manchester United and that is Ed Woodward

Ed Woodward was part of the Glazer’s take over of Manchester United back in 2005. It was him that advised the late Malcolm Glazer during the takeover of the club, presumably into leveraging the club so that the Glazers did not have to pay any money from their own pockets to acquire the Old Trafford club. Woodward was then recruited into a financial planning role at United.

Woodward is not a footballing man, although his Wikipedia page suggests that he followed non-league Chelmsford City in his younger days, there seems to be little interest in the game now. His father was said to be a Derby County and Manchester United supporter, so there was interest in football in his family. However, he decided to move into the financial sector, working for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Robert Fleming and Co, and J.P Morgan and Co before joining United.

In the period between 2005 and 2012, Woodward helped United raise the clubs annual turnover from £48.7 million (in 2005) to £117.6 million (in 2012). This was a good thing for the club and the Glazers would have been happy with the raise, which more than doubles the revenue of the club in seven years. Currently, the turnover supercedes these figures massively.

In the summer of 2013, when both Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager and David Gill, the chief executive officer, retired, Woodward became the executive vice-chairman of the club, taking on the role of Gill and overseeing the financial aspects of the club, which is the area he is very good at. However, after that summer transfer window, which saw David Moyes, the successor to Ferguson, thrown to the wolves as the club only managed the deadline day signing of Marouane Fellaini, paying £4 million more for him than they could have earlier that summer.

Moyes was sacked by Woodward in April 2014, three months after signing Juan Mata, in order to save United’s beleaguered season, which didn’t work. Ryan Giggs led the team for the final four matches of that season before a new manager came in, Louis van Gaal, after guiding the Netherlands to a third-place finish in the FIFA World Cup that summer. The clueless approach to signing players continued, but that needed to happen in order to see the bigger picture; Woodward was not good enough to take on both the financial and footballing aspects of the club.

Van Gaal managed the club for two seasons, guiding United to their first major honour, the Emirates FA Cup after beating Crystal Palace at Wembley at the end of the 2015/16 season. Of course, by that time, the speculation of Van Gaal being sacked had been rumbling through the media for almost six months and days after, Woodward sacked the Dutchman, bringing Jose Mourinho days after that.

The poor transfer dealings continued with the club failing to get rid of the players who were deadwood at the time, signing others who have not actually made the club much better than they were. Mourinho won the FA Community Shield in the 2016/17 season, like Moyes did in the 2013/14 season, adding the EFL Cup as his first major honour at the club, becoming the first United manager to win a major honour in his first season, then adding the UEFA Europa League to that after beating Ajax in the final in Sweden, meaning that United had won all major domestic and European honours they have ever played for in the history of the club.

United added more players in the summer of 2017 but there was still something missing. Mourinho then guided this squad to a second-place finish in the Premier League, despite being 19 points behind Manchester City, which Mourinho suggests was the biggest achievement of his career. That summer, there was a feeling of changes happening but the manager was not backed by Woodward, who felt the defensive reinforcements the Portuguese manager wanted were no better than the players he already had. Mourinho was not happy.

The 2018/19 season started well but soon started to decline. Mourinho was sacked after a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brought in as the caretaker manager, then being given a three-year contract in March after a good period of results, which seems to decline again after that. United had many chances to break into the top four this season, failing to beat some poor teams, now with the prospect of finishing sixth and playing in the Europa League once again.

United has conceded 52 goals in the Premier League alone this season, the most goals conceded in the top flight since the 1978/79 season, in the old Football League Division One, in which they conceded 63 goals, only scoring 60 and finishing ninth in the league. Some would admit defeat in the respect of Woodward suggesting the defenders at the club were better than the ones Mourinho wanted to add to his squad. Maybe it could have changed something this season but I guess it is another record broken on Woodward’s watch, one of many.

After six years, Woodward’s approach to ‘rebuilding’ the club has not worked. It is not going to work this summer either unless substantial changes are made. It is time that Woodward puts his money where his mouth is. He suggested to the media that a director of football, a sporting director or even a technical director would be added to the club to give a footballing knowledge at the very top of the club, as aside of Ferguson, Gill and Sir Bobby Charlton, who are all honorary directors, there is none.

As this way of doing things was not possible under Mourinho, it would have been a perfect time to get it all sorted between December 2018 and March 2019, whilst Solskjaer was the caretaker manager. However, it seems that nothing has been done in this respect. Perhaps the media should start asking questions as it seems they have been lied to by the man himself. It would have been ideal to get this sorted before the end of the season with the club able to plan for this summer, the most important one yet, which seems to become the branding ahead of every summer transfer window of late.

Many supporters of the club are calling for Woodward to be sacked, just like they were in the summer of 2013, so nothing has really changed. United has spent more than £700 million in bringing players to the club between 2013 and 2018 and that money seems to have been wasted. Imagine how a footballing man in the role would have spent this amount of money? Look at what Manchester City has done since Pep Guardiola took the job as manager. They have spent lost of money and are in with a chance of retaining the Premier League title this season, although it will go to the final day, have already won the Carabao Cup and have reached the FA Cup final, which could bring a domestic treble to the blue side of Manchester.

You also need to look at what Liverpool has achieved as a team. They have reached the UEFA Europa League final (2015/16) and two UEFA Champions League finals (2017/18 and 2018/19) in the last four years, not to mention taking the Premier League title race to the final day of the season, challenging City right to the end. It shows the importance of footballing men at the helm of the club and just what they can do. Woodward seems to think that bringing in big names and backing the players over the manager is the right way to do things. That is why the club is currently up shit creek without a paddle.

copyright: JW