In Ed Woodward’s ideal world, he would be congratulating David Moyes on delivering the Premier League title. The midfield duo of Cesc Fàbregas and Thiago Alcantara – both signed early in the transfer window thanks to the combined convictions of Woodward and Moyes, inspire United to a 21st league success. A fit and happy Robin Van Persie ends the season as the Premier League’s top scorer whilst Sir Alex Ferguson, sat in the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, smiles and applauds generously as the trophy is lifted in front of the Stretford End. The football was thrilling and the crowd was singing as a new era of dominance dawned at Old Trafford.
Unfortunately for Woodward the reality could not be further away from that dream. This season has been an unmitigated disaster at Old Trafford. Now Woodward is tasked with reversing the fortunes of Manchester United by having to make the most important decision at Old Trafford in nearly 30 years. Simply put, Woodward has to pick the right manager for Manchester United.
Then there’s the small matter of successfully recruiting United’s transfer targets, and after the debacle of last summer’s window he can’t afford anything resembling that shambles again. Take into account that this is also a World Cup year and it appears that Woodward has his work cutout for him.
Woodward is the man who advised and ultimately helped the Glazers complete their unpopular takeover of Manchester United. The club was saddled with a huge debt that, according to finance expert and United fan Andy Green, got as high as £753million in June 2010. Since the Glazer takeover in 2005 United have reportedly seen as much as £680million flow out of the club in order to service the debt.
Woodward is also the man who masterminded United’s highly successful commercial strategy which saw the Red Devils become a massive money making machine. The on-pitch success delivered by Ferguson from 2005 to his retirement in 2013 (five Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League, three League Cups, five Community Shields and a FIFA World Club Cup) has been matched by off-field triumphs with Woodward securing lucrative sponsorship deals for United.
Since Ed Woodward took over from David Gill there has been a shift in how the club have communicated with fans and a wider audience. Shortly after Woodward assumed his new role United opened a twitter account – a small step, granted, but the club used it to initially break the news of David Moyes’ departure. Woodward has spoken with fanzine ‘United We Stand’ and met with key members of the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) at his behest. David Gill, it must be noted, cut off all communication with fan groups after the Glazer takeover. Woodward has also stated his desire to see ‘Football Club’ reintroduced into the club badge; a move that would no doubt please United fans.
Perhaps the most striking change is the willingness to brief the press about potential transfer targets. Under Gill and Ferguson, any transfer activity was kept under wraps – just ask Javier Hernandez’s grandfather, who only learned about his grandson’s move to Manchester United when it was announced. Whether Woodward’s openness about United’s transfer activities with the press is a good idea or not is open to debate.