So, Ed Woodward has bullishly defended himself against critics who blamed him for errors in recruitment and accused him of prioritising financial success off the pitch ahead of progress and glory on it.
Woodward branded it a ‘myth’ that non-football people make the football decisions at United, and with that he is indirectly calling Louis van Gaal and even José Mourinho a pair of liars.
“At Manchester United, on the other hand, Ed Woodward was installed as CEO — somebody with zero understanding of football who was previously an investment banker,” Van Gaal told German magazine 11 Freunde, as per talkSPORT.
“It cannot be a good thing when a club is run solely from a commercially-driven perspective.”
Woodward also sounds like an even bigger hypocrite considering he rejected Mourinho’s transfer targets in 2018, as reported by The Guardian. This is a blatant example of a non-football person making a football decision at United.
Pressure will continue to intensify on Woodward as long as he keeps his position at the club. It’s gone too far and United’s reluctance to hire a technical director gives me the impression that Woody simply does not want to lose any of his power at the club.
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At the annual all-staff meeting in one of the suites at Old Trafford, Woodward addressed around 400 club employees — including Solskjaer — and went on the offensive.
Bless his cotton socks…
Read the full transcript below (via Manchester Evening News):
“The reality of Manchester United is we are a club in two parts,” Woodward said. “First of all, we are an incredible 141-year footballing institution with all that history, all that legacy, all that tradition and that tradition of success. That can never, ever change. We need to keep that protected.
“Then, like other football clubs, our commercial business allows us to reinvest in the football side. It’s how these two interact with each other at Manchester United that results in us having a competitive advantage in this area. What’s important is the commercial side is never allowed to take priority over the football side.
“There is a myth that we have non-football people making football decisions, and I think it’s insulting to the brilliant people who work on the football side in this club.
“Many of the senior staff on the football side of the club have been in their roles for over 10 years. Some of our scouts have worked with us for more than 25-years.
“We’ve expanded our recruitment department in recent years and we believe this now runs in an efficient and productive way. Player recommendations and decisions are worked on by this department by the first-team manager and his staff, not by senior management.
“Ole’s vision maps exactly to the core three football objectives we have: We must win trophies, we must play attacking football, and we must give youth its chance.
“Last season we were the Premier League’s leading club in terms of the most match minutes given to our own academy graduates. We should all be proud that the significant investments we have made in our academy – spanning recruitment, facilities and analytics – are now bearing fruit.
“There’s a lot more we need to do in that but that’s coming in the next few years. We know this is a strong competitive advantage for us and an area that we’ll continue to focus on and invest in. But this remains the heart of the club.
“The middle section of last season, after Ole’s arrival, feels most relevant to what we want to achieve and where we want to be. We saw a team playing fast, fluid football, with a clear representation of the style and philosophy the manager wants.
“Ole has also instilled the discipline back into an environment where we may have lacked it in recent years. He is building a squad that respects the club’s history, in which players work hard and respect their team-mates. No-one is bigger than the club.
“The changes we saw over the summer have resulted in a very young squad. But it’s also a squad, with the players and the culture, that provides a base camp for us to build and grow from as we start our new journey.”
Woodward seems to think you keep people employed because they’ve been there for 10-years, but that doesn’t really sit well with us because United’s recruitment has been way below par for the majority of those years, especially since he replaced former chief-executive David Gill in 2013.
I read the transcript this morning, thinking, that egotistical, chinless prat is arse-covering.
He has also given an interview to United fanzine United We Stand which I hope isn’t a face saving exercise because everyone can see Woodward is doing a lot of talking lately.
Cover of the next United We Stand, out v Liverpool on Sunday. We’ve done an exclusive and wide ranging face-to-face interview with Ed Woodward, where we’ve covered key areas. Subscribe here for a printed or digital edition. https://t.co/nk9S7caPp0 pic.twitter.com/6RSq4IIGoQ
— Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) October 15, 2019
I’m sure it’s pure coincidence that Woody comes out of hiding at the exact moment he’s getting blame and criticism from pretty much everyone in the media…
Sky Sports have more quotes from Woodward’s speech to staff, if you can stomach it.
“Ole has also instilled the discipline back into the environment where we may have lacked it in recent years. He is building a squad that respects the club’s history, in which players work hard and respect their team-mates.
“No one is bigger than the club. The changes we saw over the summer have resulted in a very young squad. But it’s also a squad, with the players and the culture, that provides a base camp for us to build and grow from as we start our new journey.”
Solskjaer would be naive to believe any of that. We all know that another 3 or 4 defeats over the next few weeks will crank up the pressure on Woodward and he’ll sack him like he did with the rest.
Van Gaal gave a brilliant interview to BBC Sport in March, on Woodward and getting the sack minutes after winning the FA Cup.
“I can imagine Woodward chooses Mourinho,” the Dutchman said. “He is a top coach. He has won a lot of titles. More than me.
“What I don’t like is Woodward contacting my successor, knowing in his mind he will replace me and he keeps his mouth shut for six months. Every Friday I had to go into press conferences and be asked what I thought about the rumours. What does that do to the authority of the coach?
“To win the FA Cup when, for six months, the media has a noose round my neck, is my biggest achievement.
“I spoke to Woodward the day after that game. His argument was that I was only going to be there for one more year and Mourinho would be there for three, four or five. I appreciate he hired a private plane to get me back to Portugal but his arguments were not good enough.”
Woodward cannot be trusted. It is beyond concerning that he’s still making football decisions at Manchester United, without any questioning, and the next step could be sacking his fourth manager in six years.
I get people questioning if Solskjaer is up to the job but he’s done what most of us have been crying out for, for years! He’s got rid of Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini, Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera. He’s benched Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones to give a few of the younger players a chance.
More importantly, we’ve tried up and coming in the Premier League (David Moyes), we’ve tried two unbelievably experienced managers (Van Gaal & Mourinho). Now we’ve got someone who understands United and knows what the club should be doing, though isn’t able to achieve it.
Even if it doesn’t work out, I’d like people to stick up for Solskjaer instead of thinking we should bin him. Let’s put the blame where it belongs, with Woodward and the Glazers.