The news of Ed Woodward’s departure from Manchester United at the end of the year is as significant as the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. With an English entrepreneur at its head, the club has existed since the end of the Scottish maestro’s career. At the same time, Woodward worked in the structures of Manchester United from the very beginning of the Glazer era.
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Claims against Woodward
Financial media have predicted that United will be the main newsmakers of the transfer market in summer 2020. In the conditions of the collapse of prices for football players, the verified financial vertical of the club looked almost like a guarantor of high-profile signatures. They talked about Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, but in the end the Manchester attack was strengthened only by free agent Edinson Cavani and a couple of talented juniors. The Uruguayan so far creates more reputational problems (a racist scandal and a player’s disqualification) and media noise than is beneficial, and Amad Diallo played only five matches in the main team.
Woodward’s main problem is that this is not his first failed transfer window. Manchester United fans recall how the club at various times missed Gareth Bale, Sadio Mane, Harry Kane, Arturo Vidal, Sergio Ramos and even Neymar. Instead, they spent more than 120 million for one transfers on Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo, and no one justified the investment.
Woodward was recalled giving a six-year contract to Moyes and then firing the coach 11 months later. Then he overexposed Louis van Gaal in the club, who himself wanted to leave. At the same time, the vice-president of the club at various times could not successfully negotiate with Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp and Josep Guardiola – all of them eventually went to the rivals.
Woodward is not just heavily criticized. Fans of Manchester United do not hesitate to chant about his impending death and attack his house with smoke bombs and cans of paint. Gary Neville has long called for his resignation, and a group of former Manchester United stars criticized the executive’s communication skills. With some he was inappropriately familiar, with others he did not fulfill his promises. In 2019, the British media wrote that Woodward simply stopped answering Alex Ferguson’s calls.
And most importantly, under Woodward, Manchester United failed to keep the bar set by Sir Alex. Only two sets of medals and not a single championship in seven years. But Ed in 2020 became the highest paid director in the Premier League – he received just over 3 million pounds.