As Woodward prepares to go away Man United, what legacy does he depart? Was he a ‘specialist in failure?’


Ed Woodward by no means recovered from the summer season of 2013. Thrown in on the deep finish when legendary supervisor Sir Alex Ferguson and CEO David Gill left Manchester United inside months of one another, he wished to make a splash. As an alternative, it was a flop.

The switch window, his first as CEO (though he retained the title of govt vice-chairman) and David Moyes’ first as supervisor, started with Woodward frantically departing the membership’s preseason tour of Australia to are inclined to “pressing switch enterprise” amid speak of assertion swoops for Actual Madrid‘s Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, or Barcelona‘s Cesc Fabregas. It ended with determined late-night cellphone calls to Everton and paying over the chances (a reported £27.5 million) for his or her Belgian midfielder, Marouane Fellaini.

Moyes performed his half, given his identified reluctance to maneuver rapidly out there, however the affair allowed Woodward to be painted as a novice who was out of his depth. It was a repute held by many United supporters that he was by no means capable of shake.

On Tuesday night because the proposed European Tremendous League (ESL) got here crashing down round its 12 founding members, United introduced Woodward will depart his submit. The membership have been eager to emphasize it was a deliberate departure, with the announcement not linked to the failed ESL and introduced ahead solely due to the worry the information would finally leak out. Nonetheless, these near Woodward dispute the declare and demand the fallout from the doomed enterprise was one factor the 49-year-old realised he couldn’t come again from. Privately, he has admitted that whereas he knew there could be criticism from UEFA and the Premier League, he misjudged the extent of anger the ESL stirred up in supporters.

With Woodward on the helm, United gained three trophies (none since 2017) and notched 4 Champions League {qualifications}, however eight years within the prime job at Outdated Trafford has taken its toll. After an underwhelming summer season switch window in 2018, a bunch of followers paid for a airplane to fly over the Turf Moor stadium earlier than a match with Burnley carrying a banner which learn: “Ed Woodward: A specialist in failure.”

It didn’t assist that in Could of the identical yr, Woodward had instructed a convention name with traders that “taking part in efficiency would not actually have a significant affect on what we will do on the industrial facet of the enterprise.” For a lot of followers, it was a quote that summed up how they felt the membership was being run: as a enterprise designed to earn cash reasonably than a soccer membership constructed to win trophies.

In January 2020, police had been referred to as when Woodward’s dwelling was attacked with fireworks. Woodward, his spouse and two younger daughters weren’t current, however the episode is claimed to have planted the primary seeds of doubt about whether or not he may proceed on the membership. He moved to London shortly afterwards and his safety at Outdated Trafford was beefed up over fears he may very well be egged by supporters.

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Woodward accepts he has made errors throughout his time at Outdated Trafford. He regrets parachuting Moyes right into a construction Ferguson constructed for himself, and realised too late that there ought to have been appointments made to steer completely different departments whereas leaving the brand new supervisor to focus on the primary group. He has since admitted to Moyes it was “unfair.”

In February 2014, with United 2-0 all the way down to Olympiakos within the first leg of their Champions League last-16 conflict, Woodward took an image of the scoreboard on his cellphone and, for a time, used it as his screensaver to behave as a reminder that United ought to by no means be in that place once more. By April, Moyes was gone — the primary supervisor to be sacked by United in 27 years — however Louis van Gaal’s reign was much more damaging.

Woodward insists he tried to grant each one of many Dutchman’s requests as a result of he was so determined to see United win, however accepts now he was improper to take action. He discovered himself repeatedly referred to as to the Carrington coaching floor to debate putting in Desso pitches [made from hybrid grass], adjustments to the best way the canteen was laid out and planting extra bushes as a result of Van Gaal believed the pitch was too windy. Woodward additionally admits that Van Gaal was given an excessive amount of freedom within the switch market and the adjustments which have been made to the best way United recruit gamers during the last 5 years have been in direct response to signings like Morgan Schneiderlin, Daley Blind and Bastian Schweinsteiger.



Mark Ogden reacts to Ed Woodward’s resignation at Man United and examines the way forward for the membership so long as the Glazer household stays in cost.

After bending over backwards to appease Van Gaal, Woodward took a a lot firmer stance with Jose Mourinho and friction between the pair, significantly through the summer season of 2018, was partly liable for Mourinho’s dismissal in December that yr.

Instructed in 2018 he may elevate extra funds by letting gamers depart, Mourinho was eager to maneuver Anthony Martial on to Tottenham. Woodward refused, and Mourinho stays satisfied it was as a result of the French ahead is proprietor Joel Glazer’s favorite participant. Woodward even needed to subject questions from his mum about why Mourinho at all times seemed so sad.

Woodward’s interior circle insist he solely ever wished United to be one in every of European soccer’s main gamers and tackle heavyweights like Actual Madrid and Barcelona. He acquired so sick of Actual Madrid attempting to unsettle goalkeeper David de Gea throughout their pursuit of the goalkeeper in 2015 that native paper The Manchester Night Information was contacted in an effort to chunk again.

When Paul Pogba was signed from Juventus for a world document payment of £89.3m in 2016, Woodward was delighted, not solely as a result of he had been capable of show United’s ambition within the switch market, but in addition as a result of that they had seen off a late strategy from the Spanish giants.

What occurs now is just not set in stone. United’s official stance is that Woodward will depart on the finish of yr — regardless of a private plea from Joel Glazer to remain — however he may but depart in the summertime. The membership usually are not ruling out appointing an out of doors candidate like Edwin van der Sar, who holds the identical job at Ajax and performed as a goalkeeper for the membership from 2005-11, however an inside promotion stays extra probably. Richard Arnold, group managing director and Woodward’s No. 2, is the plain selection, though he’ll take some convincing after having a entrance row seat to the mountain of criticism Woodward has confronted since taking up.

At any time when he was requested about whether or not it acquired to him, Woodward would say it was higher him than another person. However agreeing to be a part of the Tremendous League, even for 48 hours, proved one mistake too many and the fury that adopted sealed his destiny.



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