Rumours suggest Manchester United’s departing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will stay at the club as a consultant after he leaves his current role in December
If two traumatic maulings by their most hated rivals weren’t bad enough for Manchester United fans another uppercut has been delivered to their drooping chins.
A report that their board are in negotiations with their chief decision-maker, Ed Woodward, about staying on as a consultant past his retirement date.
How thrilled the Stretford End must be to know that the executive vice-chairman may not be walking in December as promised after his shameless misjudgement in spearheading the European Super League. That next year, Ed may still be at the wheel.
If rival clubs could have placed any double agent at the heart of Old Trafford to bring down Fergie’s empire, the Glazer’s favourite chartered accountant would have been top pick.
Over the past eight years running one of the world’s biggest clubs Woodward has not so much appeared out of his depth as manacled to a rusting shipwreck.
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Solskjaer is taking most of the blame, along with the players, for their dire performances of late, and the asset-stripping Glazer family are viewed as the real enemy within.
But is the major cause of their on-pitch decline since Alex Ferguson left in 2013 a lot simpler? They have had a man making all of the big football decisions who appears to know little about the intricacies of the game?
Or as one of his failed appointments, Louis van Gaal put it: “He is someone with zero understanding of football.”
An observation backed up by Woodward’s tone deaf quote to investors in 2018, when fans were suffering the humiliation of trailing neighbours City by 19 points: “Playing performance doesn’t really have a meaningful impact on what we can do on the commercial size of the business.”
The charge sheet against him would be enough for a jury of his friends and family to convict.
Holding no proper selection process to find Ferguson’s successor. Leaving Jurgen Klopp nauseous when he tried to sell Old Trafford as “an adult version of Disneyland”. Appointing Van Gaal and then Jose Mourinho, because he felt United needed a big beast in charge.
Then letting them throw mad money at big names, many of whom were, like those coaches, past their best.
Players like 29-year-old Alexis Sanchez, who was given a £6.7million signing-on fee and a pay package worth up to £500,000 per week, plus other add-ons, just to keep him out of Manchester City’s clutches.
Galvanising support for the European Super League after meeting Boris Johnson ’s chief-of-staff and, allegedly, believing he had the government’s backing.
Signing Cristiano Ronaldo this summer when the team was crying out for a defensive midfielder because he was dazzled by social media and commercial partner approval.
Manchester United via Getty Images)
Not sacking Solskjaer when Mauricio Pochettino became available. Not sacking him after the Liverpool humiliation when Antonio Conte was free and willing.
Many close to the club believe Woodward is the main obstacle to the club hiring a new manager.
When he gave Solskjaer a three-year deal in July he praised the Norwegian for finally bringing good vibes back to Old Trafford, saying: “We are more confident than ever that, under Ole’s leadership, we are heading in the right direction.”
It would be hugely embarrassing for Woodward to sack the good vibe bringer now and spend his final weeks in overall control sorting out a successor.
Especially as, with his reverse Midas touch, his decision would more than likely make things turn to brown not gold.
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Woodward should serve as a lesson to all clubs who put non-football people in charge of the big footballing decisions.
It’s no good excelling at pulling off deals with engine lubricant partners if your instincts are all over the place when it comes to the main skill required in running a football club.
Knowing about football.
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