An open letter to Ed Woodward, Manchester United executive vice-chairman

Mr Edward Woodward
Manchester United Football Club
Old Trafford
M16 0RA

Dear Mr Woodward,

Thank you for taking time out of your day to day running of the club to read this letter. It comes with no great pleasure, in fact extreme discontentment, that I write this letter to you, however I do feel that I speak for the majority of Manchester United fans as I write these words.

I have Manchester United ingrained into my DNA from childhood to adulthood, from watching them on the television, taking my place as a season ticket holder in the Stretford End, to covering miles home and away from Old Trafford to Wembley among others, I have seen incredible highs and bitter lows at this club for which I will always hold an indelible love.

However, as the 2018-19 season comes to a close, there are growing, mass feelings of uncertainty, frustration and even anger at not only the performances of the club on the field, but how this is exacerbated and contextualised by our two greatest, bitterest rivals Liverpool and Manchester City having sterling seasons, leaving us further in their growing wake.

Historically, United hold the cards over City, but the gap, should I say chasm, which has been developing ever since Sheikh Mansour took the reins at City has reached alarming levels, which I will now put into damning context:

Ever since the 2015-16 season, where the two clubs finished level on points, City have since amassed 9, 19 and, most recently, a humbling, crushing 32 more points respectively than United. These figures really should be sending shock waves through the club at how much the gap has to be bridged. Let me add, that would be just to compete with them, let alone surpass and get back to the heights we used to scale with an impregnable ease.

Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Manchester United have been through four managers, on your watch, have not won a Premier League title, have only had two top four finishes, which should be the absolute minimum for our great club, and have endured four seasons with a sub 70 points total, which was last seen in 1991.

There can be little doubting your financial and revenue acumen, which is epitomised by the staggering 62% growth in the area and should rightfully be applauded. That said, most working class fans, who pay hard earned money, live and breathe this football club and are only interested in the club doing the business on the football pitch, having the best players and seeing us compete for honours come May, not living in dread at the prospect of either Liverpool or City lifting trophies aloft. This, in fact, is the definition of a United fan’s worst nightmare.

The Glazer takeover, which you helped facilitate, has drained out of our great club more than £1 billion in interest, costs, fees and dividends since 2005. That number approximately equates to that that Sheikh Mansour has invested into creating an all-conquering Manchester City team.

With the revenue figures at booming levels, I put it to you that Manchester United should be in the market for the best players in the world year in, year out, irrespective of whether the much coveted Champions League football is secured.

Instead, three of the back four who started our final league match of the season against Cardiff City were at the club when we stared Champions League elimination in the face in 2011 in Basel. If ever there was a sign that the club has entered the doldrums, surely that is a big indication?

I just would like to emphasise that this is by no means a knee-jerk reaction. This has been six years in the making. Most fans would, I’m sure, quite happily accept a few barren years more as long as there were clear signs of progression, forward thinking, planning and a clear structure from the top right to the very bottom in place.

I think most football observers would acknowledge that these traits have been sorely lacking at the club, it is clear that there needs to be a footballing culture and philosophy at the core of the club, which resonates from boardroom level right through to the youth teams.

That is what made the Sir Alex Ferguson era so unparalleled- everyone from David Gill to the canteen staff knew what was needed for Manchester United to be the very best in the English game.

These cross city comparisons are incredibly painful to make, but look at how Begiristain, Soriano and others have brought that Barcelona unity and philosophy to Manchester City. They pinpointed Pep Guardiola as their number one target all along and the fruits of their labour are now blooming. Their director of football approach has brought a winning culture with an unmistakable blueprint ranging from playing style on the pitch to the recruitment off it to fit into that style.

I implore you to back Ole Gunnar Solskjaer unconditionally in his attempts to revive this great club. This club has been hiring and firing managers for too long now to ensure stability. This is a man who has the club running through his veins and will no doubt be hurting at its current predicament. He understands the club and needs to be given time to build what he sees to be a Manchester United team capable of consistently fighting for honours again.

With the correct structure, a director of football with a clear footballing vision and allowing Mr Solskjaer, United through and through, to have the final say on footballing matters, aligned with the director of football’s philosophy, I firmly believe that one day United will be back among Europe’s elite.
It would give supporters worldwide a sense of confidence if you could provide assurances that there are clear plans, both on and off the pitch to restore the club’s fortunes.

There is a lot of dented pride and lost love out there following this season and there needs to be some accountability, not just this year, for the last six years where the winds of change have seen United fall from the top.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully.

Paul Rowles – Stretty News writer

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