The CEO and owners of United have endured the scorn and anger of many fans over the years. Has it been fair? And are they gaining acceptance? In this week’s Red Thoughts, our team of fans exchange their views on the club’s hierarchy.
Think about it as a written podcast, a fans’ forum, a place to debate and discuss. Feel free to join in the discussion in the comments below.
TOM: To be honest, I’ll never be a fan of the Glazers and the recent loosening of the purse strings has been an act of necessity rather than kindness. But I feel Woodward has to be a bit of a hero in this window, he was given a list and delivered and in quick fashion. I don’t think we’ll ever warm to him in the same way as his predecessor, as David was a true football man, but he’s growing into the role.
DAN: The Glazers have taken United’s revenue and instead of investing it back into the side, they have used it to line their pockets and keep the American businesses afloat. All they seem interested in is the non-UK markets. I dont think the whole blame should be laid at their door though, as their trusty left hand man Mr Woodward has been responsible for advising them and pushing the club towards a global market, with David Gill also involved in sorting deals out before he left.
Ed Woodward has always tried his best when it comes to the transfer market – he was all new to the market when Moyes was in charge and was with Moyes a little too obsessed with Fabregas. But in the past three windows I think he’s done well with the deals and players he has brought in. Yes, Falcao and Di Maria flopped big time, but he wasn’t to know that as I don’t think there was one Red who wasn’t excited about those two signings.
TOM: Dan, I think the difference between Woodward the clown and the Woodward of now is basically he has stopped trying to be David Gill and is playing to his own strengths. Dave was well respected and was a great negotiator and in that first year, Ed spent so much time haggling without earning his spurs and failing miserably. Now he is prepared to say to hell with it and spend what it takes.
DAN: He just got him self so caught up on Fabregas, especially after Thiago went to Bayern to join Pep. He became obsessed with trying to sign a player who never wanted to sign for us.
TOM: Following David Gill was almost the equivalent of following SAF really in terms of respect and I think mentally that probably played a role in his first year at the helm.
DAN: Oh without a doubt! Then I think Van Gaal was a bit more direct with him and said I want this player and that player nice and early, to give him chance. I think he learnt you need to move quickly and decisively.
BETS: I bought shares in MUST, I go to games in my yellow and green scarf, I’ve always been dead against these guys, but this Pogba transfer has made me think again. In taking the lid totally off the transfer kitty, haven’t the Glazers just made United a bigger club than even Real and Barca? They can’t compete with us at this level. I don’t think Chelsea can either. Only maybe City, but they don’t have the history or infrastructure. The only thing that’s stopping us getting absolutely any player in the world we want is now pretty much that player’s desire to come to us. When we have bad managers and a lack of Champions League, that rules out many of the world’s best, but if Mou brings us success, they will come. In my lifetime we never had that purchasing power.
FAB: Well, two or three years ago, Im sure I’d have said that we need to get rid of both. The Glazers care about money, as that’s the whole point in business, right? Sometimes it feels bad not having a president/owners that know about football, but when I have a look at other clubs, I kind of feel lucky. Look at AC Milan for example, Berlusconi is their biggest fan, he’s sacked manager after manager because they didn’t follow his instructions related to the lineup. He even put his daughter in charge and she went messing around with players. Or look at Inter, their former president did the same thing by interfering with the manager’s decisions. So at least the Glazers are not like them, or Florentino Perez, and I really appreciate that.
In the past three years, I have criticized Ed for certain decisions, deals and rumours. A lot of players have used us to get a new contract and I am afraid that this wasn’t just because of the process. In the last transfer markets we haven’t been concrete in our targets, we have lost races for several players because we have been lost in rumours that the press invented and unfortunately Ed always fell for them. As I have said, Ed is not a bad administrator but he needs someone to guide him and Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes were terrible at this. The Fabregas saga you mentioned is a prime example.
Ed knows how to use money, so I think he only needed someone like Jose Mourinho to make him the best in the business. I think that there’s no coincidence that we have now won two battles against Real Madrid two years in a row. Maybe it wasn’t the fax that ruined the De Gea deal, it was us, with Ed in charge, taking revenge for several deals they ruined for us. This year we made Real Madrid feel small again by signing Pogba and they’re still crying about it, along with Barcelona.
The fact that we are such an important brand is all thanks to the Glazer family. Yeah, the brand thing ruined our preseason this summer, but having that contract with Adidas and over 70 sponsors is all because of them. The American market it’s very important for us. AON and Chevrolet are two huge brands and that’s how business it’s done. If we hadn’t had this capital, these amazing contracts, the consequences of the lack of Champions League football would have been disastrous for us. In this aspect, the Glazers are great. We still have a debt to pay but we don’t even care.
RICK: Regarding the debt thing, it’s so minimal now because of our sponsorship deals and revenue, which have been generated through all the deals Ed has brokered for us in the last couple of seasons. The Adidas deal really made people stand up and take notice, especially after Nike told us to take a hike and wouldn’t give us a proper sponsorship deal. I bet they’re regretting that now though. In the beginning I thought Ed was inexperienced, however he knew how to get money for the club from sponsorships. He is an absolute master at that. But when it’s come to getting money for players and buying players, Moyes and LVG really should have helped him more as you say. Wherever Mourinho has gone he’s got the players he wants with no hassle, so it’s no surprise the same has happened when he’s come to us.
REX: My views on the hierarchy have always been the same. Glazers first. 1. They are businessmen who bought a business in the form of a football club. If anyone objected to it then they should have bid higher, as at the time the club was for sale on the open market for whoever could afford it. They forked out the cash. Because they own the business, they’ll do with the profit what they see fit. Some of it was going into their pockets as some have said over and over (but they are entitled to, since they own it) and some to pay off the creditors. So the debt thing became an issue simply because other teams’ fans kept bringing it up as banter, so people got it into their heads that somehow a team like United would go into administration when it was never going to happen. Which brings me to…
2. There was a lot of blame that United were penny pinching to pay off debts, but as we’ve seen, we had the money and we’ll spend under the right circumstances. I feel a lot of that penny pinching was also down to Fergie not wanting to spend money. He and Wenger (respectfully) are cut from the same cloth and unless they really needed a player they didn’t spend much. There’s no way people can convince me that if Fergie actually wanted £100 million, the board would say no. He was winning the league with mediocre squads and we got so content with it that we didn’t see what could happen if he left. He did and boom, we collapsed. No character, no egos, no world class talent to rely on to get us out of trouble. Enter my final point …
3. Ed Woodward came in at the time of decline so there’s really nothing he could do. Let’s face it, we could have given Moyes £500 million and no one would have come to us other than what we got that year. LVG got decent players in the first time he came in, but then after watching that kind of football no one would play for him either. And I think we’re all witnesses to what happened when the right manager came. So for me, they are doing all right with what they’ve got to work with. It’s just that people expect them to just cater to the club and that’s it, which will never happen. It’s also a business. Businesses yield either loss or profit and owners do what they will with those. We’ve been lucky to get ones who genuinely want the club to do well, which they’ve shown, especially in this window, but the new and right manager had a lot to do with that as well.
RICK: I agree. The simple fact why we didn’t get anyone under Moyes is that no one wanted to come play for Moyes. With LVG, again, no one wants to be restricted and play crab-like football. If we’d had Mourinho at the time, Di Maria would still be at the club. Ed seems to be finding his feet and is being helped by Mourinho. But all in all, our club is in a wonderful financial situation as our debt should be cleared off soon.
BETS: Maybe then all in all we’re saying that, as fans, we have to face the fact that whether we like it or not, football is now big business … that success on the pitch is now just as much about how good corporate performance is as how good management and coaching is!
REX: I’ve seen a lot of people reference City’s owners in comparison to ours, but they forget that City’s owners are flooding money into the club just to try to catch up to us. Something that took us over a century to accomplish, they want done in a few years. It’ll never happen because you can’t buy history, but they do have the necessary facilities to rival us. So then it’s down to the football to keep them as far back as possible. That has nothing to do with the owners/CEO but with the players and manager.