Ed Woodward, Manchester United, and how to create a rod for your own back 1


Ed Woodward did not enjoy his first year as Manchester United’s Chief Executive and his association with both David Moyes and last Summer’s failed transfer activity still effect how he’s perceived by the club’s fans.

Times are changing; Louis Van Gaal has arrived, two significant bits of business have been concluded, and optimism has cautiously returned to Old Trafford.

But Woodward still seems very naive in the way he manages his public persona.

“There is no fixed budget. Financially we are extremely strong, we have funds available.

Louis is the boss and is assessing what’s going on but we have been in dialogue for some time about targets so there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes … we’re continuing to move forward on some of those targets … so watch this space.”

That’s from a recent interview with MUTV (via The Guardian).

There’s nothing wrong with being positive in public and giving your fan-base cause for enthusiasm, but someone in Woodward’s position needs to do less talking and more doing.

This lesson should have been learnt last year: the press were briefed that Woodward was leaving the club’s pre-season tour early to attend to ‘urgent transfer business’ only for nothing to happen.  End result?  Woodward looking ineffective and mildly foolish.

Chief Executives don’t have to be visible and there’s really no need for them to voluntarily become part of the game’s narrative.  I understand the temptation to do otherwise and for an individual to cast himself as a character within this soap opera, but it isn’t really in anyone’s best interests.  If a CEO starts talking about limitless transfer budgets and imminent deals - and then nothing happens - then criticism is inevitable.  Football fans are a pretty unforgiving group and they tend not to react too well to be teased.

If Woodward completes two or three high-profile transfer before the end of the current window, then that will in itself be a resounding statement about his capabilities.  He doesn’t need to provide a running commentary on what he’s doing and, ultimately, he doesn’t need to voluntarily create this additional pressure on himself.

This is a time for Ed Woodward to be quietly getting on with his job.


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