It has not been the best of weeks for Manchester United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward as the pressure mounts on him to keep his role at the club.
First, his decision to pull out of negotiations for Norwegian starlet Erling Braut Haaland was made to look like a huge gaffe as the 19-year-old scored a hat-trick in his first 20 minutes of football in the German Bundesliga.
Second, when it was feared that Harry Maguire had picked up a long term injury it emerged that Woodward had failed to include a recall clause in Chris Smalling’s loan deal with Roma.
Then, after it was confirmed that Marcus Rashford would be ruled out for at least two months, it was revealed that Woodward had similarly failed to include a recall clause in Alexis Sanchez’s loan deal with Inter Milan.
Woodward allowed Ander Herrera to leave the club on a free transfer in the summer and sold Romelu Lukaku to Inter without securing replacements for either player. With Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and now Marcus Rashford all long-term casualties, the stupidity of doing so is plain for all to see.
Former player Gary Neville has lambasted Woodward’s recruitment record in an interview with The Telegraph. ‘United have the second-highest wage bill in the world. And that’s the squad they’ve got. It’s unforgivable. It really is … I can’t believe the investment that’s been put into the squad … and you end up with that out on the pitch … If you don’t lose your job for essentially overseeing that investment, that wage bill, and putting that team out on the pitch then I have to say something is really wrong.’
Woodward’s appalling recruitment record does not just confine itself to players. The Sun revealed yesterday that Celtic and Scotland physio Tim Williamson was supposed to join United to bolster the overburdened medical department.
However, after three months of frustration in which he received no contact from Old Trafford to set up the necessary meetings, he told United to forget it and decided to stay at Celtic.
Patrice Evra has also this week suggested that Woodward is not a man of his word in an interview released on Twitter.
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Woodward even this week received an embarrassing slap where it really hurts him – the commercial side – as Bloomberg published an article criticising the running of the club from a shareholder point of view.
Amongst other things, Bloomberg point out that ‘Since the IPO, Man Utd has returned 5.8% a year. Italy’s Juventus Football Club SpA, Germany’s Borussia Dortmund GmbH and AFC Ajax NV in the Netherlands, all publicly traded, have averaged returns of 22% in the same period.’
Woodward’s popularity is at an all-time low, with #SackWoodward trending on Twitter across the world.
All eyes are now on the Bruno Fernandes transfer, which is jumping in and out of the Essex man’s hands like a slippery bar of soap. The deal could prove to be make-or-break for Woodward: if he signs the 25-year-old before the end of this month, the pressure will be relieved, for a while at least. But if he fails to do so, even the loyal Glazer family may be forced to take action to finally put Ed out of his misery at the helm of this great club.