March 24, 2019
Given the number of roles that Ed Woodward seems to have taken on at Manchester United, one would think that he has found the pill from the film Limitless. Not only does he play major roles in the various business and financial aspects of the club, however, Woodward also has the say on which players the club brings in, and also handles the contract extensions for current players.
Unfortunately, while it most likely would look good on a CV to have assumed so many roles, it doesn’t mean a thing if one juggles all the responsibility and end’s up with poor results in the end.
The executive vice-chairman’s dealings on the market have drawn criticism from fans. According to TalkSport, Woodward was on the hot seat this season during the dreadful performances the club endured under Jose Mourinho.
As reported back in October, Mourinho’s treatment of players such as Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford did draw criticism, but the primary target was not the manager, but instead Ed Woodward. With the blame now being targeted at Woodward, the recent trend of the director of football becoming a productive position in clubs throughout England has added more spotlights on the 47-year-old executive.
Woodward’s ideal player when shopping around seems to have caused a lack of growth within the squad. Some would wonder if this is because of his financial backgrounds, as Woodward seems to have a tendency to look for a cheaper option to fill a position, even if it means going for an older player, who could potentially be past their prime if not nearing the end of it.
Some of the players that would be good examples of this habit are Zlatan Ibrahimovic for one, who United was able to secure for free from PSG. Ibrahimovic was able to make an impact at United in his defence, as he made 91 total appearances in his three seasons of involvement in Manchester, even while spending over 200 days in the 2016/2017 season, and 60 days in the 2017/2018 season on the injured reserve.
Another example is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who United secured for just over £8 million from Bayern Munich. Schweinsteiger joined United in the summer of 2015 and while he made 29 total appearances in all competitions, his first season accounted for a massive majority of the appearances, as he only made four appearances in his second season with the club, none of them being in the Premier League.
It has become a popular question amongst United supporters of whether or not the club will eventually put in place a director of football. Through his dealings in the transfer market, it is evident that Woodward has no clue of the importance of chasing down youth, instead of bargains.
Even recently, with the reports of United potentially making a bid to get Antione Griezmann, Woodward that he doesn’t have much experience with the football side of the club. He seems to chase after the biggest names in the game, even if they’re in their upper 20s nearing their 30s.
This type of mentality can be lethal for a club’s hopes to rebuild and win titles, as instead of investing in players who can spend 10 to maybe even 15 years at the club, they end up with a two to four year fill-in player. However, for this to happen the players need to be acquired young, like Wayne Rooney was when he arrived at Manchester United.
While it is true that when a club has a young player that has the potential to become a star, they will make another club pay a hefty sum to acquire them. The math still favours paying the sometimes-exorbitant fees for a young prodigy, over still paying a good chunk of change on an older player who may only give you a few seasons and may be injury prone.
A director of football knows the value of youth, and United supporters are beginning to voice their demands for the addition of one at United. The only thing that may stand in the way of the position coming to the club is Ed Woodward himself.
Whether or not he gives up his control over the players will come down to him willing to accept that he may not be the right man for that job, and to go back to possibly more behind-the-scenes roles that he also has. Either way, he was hired to do what was best for the club, and not for himself. It is the expectation of every United supporter, player, and member of the staff that he doesn’t forget that.
Written by Joel Dulka