January 26, 2019
Manchester United have needed a Director of Football at the club for a number of years now. Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, around £716 million has been spent with the team led by three different managers. During the David Moyes season, United spent £64.6 million. During the two years Louis van Gaal spent as the manager, £253.9 million was spent. In the two and a half years Jose Mourinho spent as the manager, a total of £397.6 million was spent.
When you look at that amount of money which has been spent in nearly six years, it makes you wonder why this United squad has struggled largely, need leadership in defence and still lack quality in various positions on the pitch. This is largely down to Woodward as he has been signing players that different managers have asked for. If there was someone at boardroom level that understood the game and what the club actually needed, it makes you think that the money might have been spent wisely.
Out of the 25 players who have been brought into the club, some of them being free agents, one being a loan spell, there are just 17 players left at the club and some of those could well depart in the summer. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Radamel Falcao all left the club for no fee, although Mkhitaryan was a swap with Arsenal for Alexis Sanchez. Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay, and Morgan Schneiderlin left for a loss of £27.7 million. Daley Blind left for a profit of just £100,000.
For years now, there have been some questionable signings which could have been haled with a Director of Football at the club. The role of the position is to look at the footballing factors at the club and oversee the signings for the various areas that need to be filled or even strengthened, amongst other things. Having a manager doing this, in which United have had three permanent managers, has left even more confusion as United still have players from each era, still many from Ferguson’s.
If you think about Woodward’s first summer transfer window at United, Moyes was seeking many different players to keep the reigning Premier League champions on top of their game. The return of Cristiano Ronaldo was mentioned in the media, as was the club seeking a new central midfielder. Cesc Fabregas, then of Barcelona was chased with the club getting nowhere. Thiago Alcantara was another that did not arrive. Then on deadline day, Marouane Fellaini arrived with the club paying £4 million more than they could have.
If a Director of Football was in charge, they would have not spent the summer chasing a player that was never going to come. Woodward also chased Gareth Bale, who moved from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid that summer. It makes you wonder what went through Woodward’s mind? Perhaps he thought that none of the players he was after would turn the club down. You even had the fact that Ronaldo used United to get more lucrative contracts in Madrid years later. Woodward that!
The moves in the transfer market never seemed to get any better. The recruitment was questionable. Memphis Depay was a talented player in the Netherlands but didn’t quite cut it in the Premier League under both Van Gaal and Mourinho. Some say he’s doing well in France, but it is not exactly one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin both mainly failed at United and Angel Di Maria just did not fit in at all and seemed to blame everyone but himself for that.
You would imagine that someone with footballing knowledge would have been able to give support or opposition to the signing of certain players, ones that a manager had requested. Having some knowledge may have led to the club deciding not to make a move for players, which may have happened last summer when Mourinho was blocked from signing a central defender with those the club were chasing suggested to be no better than the players already at the club, which was how Woodward briefed the media.
When you look at the state of this Manchester United squad, which does have many talented players, you also see the deadwood at the club and the positions that do not seem to be strengthened by players who are good enough to play at this level. United desperately need a player for the right-wing position. You can blood youth in with players such as Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and even Mason Greenwood but if there is no experience to learn from, in that position, it may not be helpful.
Ed Woodward is great at bringing in the money. The club has many partners and sponsors which seem to generate a lot of money with United emerging as one of the richest clubs in the world, although it seems they may have recently been toppled by both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Keeping Woodward in charge of bringing the money instead of spending it is probably the best option for the club right now.
United have been linked to many Director of Football candidates with Andrea Berta the one most recently linked to the Old Trafford club. The club seemed to deny that they were looking for a Director of Football some time ago but as soon as Jose Mourinho left the club, the speculation was rife once again. Gone are the days of single managers at club running everything from the top to the bottom. Football has changed and United need to get with the times and adapt in the same way as other clubs.