Good riddance and thanks for nothing, Ed Woodward

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The day has finally arrived: the happy and glorious day Edward Gareth Woodward is no longer an employee of Manchester United Football Club. You have no idea how long I waited to write these words.

United’s much-maligned CEO has stepped down from his role with the arrival of Richard Arnold – the move might still be akin to shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic but, on the other hand, Arnold surely can’t be worse than his predecessor.

There is no doubt that Woodward was very good at earning money for the club, which is, of course, exactly why the Glazer family rated him so highly. Indeed, United’s commercial value has tripled in nine years, but the club’s financial clout is so vast that it doesn’t take a genius to inflate the coffers dramatically. Ultimately, it will be judged by a string of failures that have brought one of the world’s most iconic sporting institutions to its knees.

The problem came from someone who had no football experience and who took the reins and made all the major football decisions in the halls of power, often in place of those who have vastly superior sense and knowledge.
When then-United manager Jose Mourinho approached his boss with a list of signings he wanted in the summer of 2018, Woodward – after offering the Portuguese instigator a new contract – vetoed to the wishes of his manager. Instead, we ended up with Fred, Diogo Dalot and a 50-year-old Stoke reject in Lee Grant.

Mourinho, arguably the most successful boss of his generation, had the door slammed on by a man who probably didn’t even know who the names on the aforementioned list were. Then, to add insult to injury, one of those targets – Harry Maguire – was signed twelve months later anyway, but with Mourinho now gone.

It wasn’t Woodward’s most heinous act, but it does give us a sense of the dysfunction that has permeated United from top to bottom throughout their chaotic nine-year reign of terror.

Where is the logic, the common thinking to support your manager with a new contract, but refuse to allow him to strengthen the team before you five months later? Mourinho followed the same path as David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in being sacked from Old Trafford – four managers have all shown the door having failed to put up a serious challenge on top honors in the game despite d huge expense for the team. Whether you think these men were “up to the job” or not, such a high turnover of managers in a relatively short period of time ultimately leaves a dark mark on the name and reputation of our now deceased CEO. Millions spent with just an FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League to show for it – the last two coming in 2017 with the Reds now on the cusp of their longest trophyless streak in almost 40 years ( !) Indeed, as the plane that flew over Turf Moor in 2018 proclaimed itself, a true specialist in failure.

Woodward was the brainchild of the doomed and ill-fated Super League – the conceit project that caused an uproar last year, but then fell apart days after Woodward and his power-hungry minions convened the greedy head in a money. attempt to ruin the Beautiful Game forever. His decision to leave the club was apparently unrelated to the ESL debacle, but you have to wonder if it served as the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

Then there was perhaps his greatest and most despicable act: a remark that should have seen him dismissed out of hand – when he said, at a shareholders’ meeting, United hadn’t no need to “do anything on the ground to succeed”. It might prevail from his point of view, but we fans only care what happens with the ball and not in the boardroom.

The dye was sunk on Woodward’s first day in office at United. He quit the club’s pre-season tour of Australia on “urgent transfer business” but – whether he used sat nav or not – he quickly got lost in the murky depths of the transfer market. A rookie CEO and an unproven manager following the retirement of English football’s greatest manager of all time – in hindsight, United never had hope. In the turbulent post-Ferguson years, Woodward’s presence has been the one constant, the common denominator, in an era that has seen one disappointment after another in the transfer market, behind the scenes and on the pitch. How many other football club CEOs would you recognize or name? They are meant to be in the background, not the foreground.

Arnold takes the wheel with a plethora of problems – managerial uncertainty, contracts for some of the team’s biggest stars unresolved and the arrest of Mason Greenwood. Woodward’s successor is expected to take more of a step back when it comes to making footballing decisions, focusing on the business side of the club and leaving pitch matters to those more qualified such as technical director Darren Fletcher. We can only hope that the new Arnold will learn from his mentor’s mistakes.

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