The summer of 2013 marked a seminal moment in the recent history of Manchester United. Although we knew nothing could last forever, seismic shockwaves were sent throughout football with the news Sir Alex Ferguson – the greatest football manager of all-time – was hanging up his watch.
Dwarfed by the news of this mighty figure came two more snippets that would shape the future of Manchester United. As if the retirement of Old Trafford’s third knight of the realm was not enough to hit us in the feels, David Gill – understated and under-rated in the background of Ferguson’s empire, was also on his way. Gill had been what every good CEO should be – a sounding board, an advisory, a man who does all his best work unseen and unnoticed away from the prying eyes of the press and public. Gill and Ferguson were a potent, perfect partnership integral to the inner workings of Manchester United year after year.
When they both left at the same time, United were faced with not only the uncertainty of a new manager, but a new man as CEO as well. If Ferguson’s replacement David Moyes was inexperienced at the top level, so too was the man anointed in Gill’s stead, an unknown executive, promoted from within, by the name of Edward Gareth Woodward.
Woodward soon set to work, departing the pre-season tour on “urgent transfer business”. Whether he used Sat Nav or not, he quickly became lost in the murky depths of the transfer market, missing out on Cesc Fabregas before launching into a lengthy spiel about just how close he came to five “high profile” signings including Thiago Alcantara and Gareth Bale. Within a year, Moyes was gone, setting in motion a chain of events that would come to epitomise Woodward’s near-decade long reign of terror at Old Trafford.
PA Sources: Man Utd Chief Executive Ed Woodward has left the club's tour of Australia early to carry out some urgent transfer business
— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) July 17, 2013
There’s no doubt that Woodward was very good at making money, often chasing lucrative commercial deals and, more often than not, getting them done. But such is the size of a club like United, there isn’t exactly a dearth of financial partners when it comes to such activity, so you don’t exactly need to be a genius to be able to operate seamlessly in that department. Woodward was the Glazers dream – a man obsessed by money, shares and profits above all else, a mouthpiece, a puppet, someone happy to do their dirty work and their bidding whilst the absent owners counted their dollars in absentia across the pond.
Ultimately, old Ed is the common denominator in eight years of failure at Manchester United AD (after dominance). A man, a glorified accountant, thrust into a position above his standing, who knew nothing about football but yet continued to be responsible for all the major football decisions at the club. How can that be right? One of the biggest football clubs in the world employing someone who knew nothing about the sport as their CEO, their modus operandi, as the face of said institution. Thanks for that, Ed, you absolute parasite. In those eight seasons, the club have spent almost a billion with three trophies to show for it (the two domestic cups and a Europa League). Five of the last seven years have ended pot-less. The plane that flew over Burnley’s Turf Moor in 2018 had it about right: specialist in failure indeed.
Good riddance and thanks for nothing Ed Woodward, you’ve been responsible for much of the mess this once great club has found itself in – shambolic recruitment, three failed managers, a scattergun transfer policy, a chronic mishandling of players contracts, a frequent liar to the fans, the trophy-less seasons, the criminal mismanagement and the neglect of Old Trafford that has seen the stadium – leaking roof and all – gradually crumble into disrepair. Not forgetting his most heinous act of all – suggesting Manchester United don’t need to win silverware to be successful, as per ESPN. He should have been sacked for that comment alone. Get lost and take your parasitic paymasters with you. Never step foot inside this club again and hopefully you get hit by the door on your way out.
As if the collapse of the proposed Super League wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, the shock news of Woodward’s departure came as joy unconfined for Manchester United fans the world over. I don’t about you, but for me it feels as if we’ve won something – such is the ill feeling I’ve had towards this man and his band of cronies as we’ve watched them run our club – the greatest football club in the history of the world – slowly but surely – into the ground.
Joel Glazer’s notion in the statement (via ManUtd.com) confirming his CEO’s departure was as ludicrous as it was inaccurate: “Ed has given tremendous service to this club and will always be welcome back at Old Trafford.” Very rich indeed from a man whom has been into the stadium twice in the last fifteen years and, by his own admission, still struggles to get to grips with the nuances of the English game. Any shred of credibility these men had has surely now been eviscerated by the seismic events of the last few days so you cannot take them seriously.
Finally, finally, the day has come when we can begin to remove this cancer, this poisonous, parasitic, toxic regime that has permeated the boardroom for too long now. The departure of the ill-fated, much-maligned and far from popular Woodward is a good start, but there’s a long way to go, we cannot stop this fight now. If we’re to get our club back, we need to drive these leeches out of town too. For the sake of this club, please just go. Leave us, put a “for sale” sign above Old Trafford’s doors and sell the club to genuine, passionate football-loving people with the best interests of Manchester United at heart. Keep up the protests, keep the movement going and keep making your voices heard – we will get there in the end.
With Woodward gone at last, there can only be one choice as his replacement. Enter, Edwin van der Sar. Experienced figure in football both as a player and behind the scenes, eminently qualified with a master degree in sports and brand management, chief executive at a European giant in Ajax, appreciates fans, knows how the club works, and – perhaps most importantly of all – he remains a popular figure at Old Trafford.