Old Trafford will be a graveyard for managers and players until Ed Woodward steps aside 3 years ago

Old Trafford will be a graveyard for managers and players until Ed Woodward steps aside

There has been one common denominator at Old Trafford over the struggles of the past five years

Throughout the painful tenures of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho; among the criticism of the managers themselves and the sub-standard performances of players, one shadow has loomed large in the background.

Advertisement

It is the shadow of Ed Woodward, a man who has his fingers in all of the pies at Manchester United and is a trusted employee of the owners, the Glazer family.

Woodward is a competent businessman who has achieved success outside of football. He was given a role in Manchester United's financial department after advising the Glazers during their takeover, before assuming the lead operational role at Old Trafford following the retirement of former CEO David Gill.

But having an impressive CV away from the game doesn't render him qualified to oversee football operations, especially at a club which has for decades considered itself the biggest and best in the world.

Advertisement

Woodward's tenure at Old Trafford has made it clear that he believes this mantra; he believes that Manchester United are the biggest and best club in the world.

The problem is that Woodward's reign has also made it clear that he is significantly more concerned with making sure as many people as possible know Manchester United are the biggest and best club in the world, rather than ensuring that selling point remains true on the pitch.

To the Woodward breed of chief executive - with no history or prior experience in football - the brand is everything. What's the point in winning the league if you've got fuck all followers on Twitter to tell about it?

It is a scourge which is gradually taking over the game, and can be seen on the identikit social media accounts of the world's biggest teams, creating an environment in which impressions and engagement appear to be almost as important as what happens on the pitch.

Advertisement

But while the world's other top clubs have proven they can manage brand growth alongside the pursuit of major honours, Woodward's time at Old Trafford has shown that he is incapable of doing that.

This is evidenced by pretty much every decision made by the club's hierarchy since the departure of Gill. The football side of things takes a backseat to commercial dealings, resulting in a team that is already 19 points behind leaders Liverpool.

It leads to short term thinking, no further than the next quarterly results meeting at least, and it is the reason that anger at the players and the managers will be futile and misguided while the current structure continues.

Are the players underperforming? Yes. Was Jose Mourinho the right man for the club? Certainly not. Will replacing either truly change things? Not a chance, if the last few years serve as any indication.

Advertisement

There is a place for people from outside the world of football at football clubs. They can broaden the thought processes of previously insular institutions to see the bigger picture.

But when expansion comes at the cost of what made that club an institution in the first place, it is not worth the sacrifice, no matter how many noodle or premium petrol partners you can command.

That is the state of things currently at Manchester United, and the club will continue to be a soulless husk, wandering through a fog of mediocrity and commercial spreadsheets until there is a fundamental change from top to bottom.