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Woodward hits back at critics and says Solskjaer is the right man for Man United

The Old Trafford chief defended his record at a staff meeting.

Under pressure: Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Under pressure: Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

MANCHESTER UNITED EXECUTIVE vice-chairman Ed Woodward hit back at “insulting” claims that the Red Devils are being run by the wrong people and insisted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the right man to manage the club.

United have made their worst start to a league campaign since 1989-90, recording just two wins from their eight Premier League matches so far to languish in 12th place with nine points.

Going further back, the Red Devils have won six of their last 23 matches in all competitions – including a penalty shoot-out win over Rochdale United in the EFL Cup – and welcome unbeaten league leaders Liverpool to Old Trafford on Sunday.

Ahead of the showdown fixture, Woodward urged supporters to remain patient and get behind manager Solskjaer, who signed a permanent contract in March after impressing during a three-month caretaker spell in charge.

“The middle section of last season, after Ole’s arrival, feels most relevant to what we want to achieve and where we want to be,” said Woodward at the club’s annual all-staff meeting on Thursday. 

“We saw a team playing fast, fluid football, with a clear representation of the style and philosophy the manager wants.

“Ole has also instilled the discipline back into an environment where we may have lacked it in recent years. He is building a squad that respects the club’s history, in which players work hard and respect their team-mates. No-one is bigger than the club.”

United spent around £140million on Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and club-record signing Harry Maguire after finishing sixth in the Premier League last season.

But the 13-time Premier League champions allowed Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to depart for Inter without bringing in a replacement, leaving Solskjaer light of options in attack.

That has led to further criticism of Woodward’s lack of football acumen, with allegations that he is more focused on commercial deals worldwide than making United a title-winning force.

Responding to those claims, Woodward said: “The reality of Manchester United is we are a club in two parts. First of all, we are an incredible 141-year footballing institution with all that history, all that legacy, all that tradition and that tradition of success. 

“That can never, ever change. We need to keep that protected… what’s important is the commercial side is never allowed to take priority over the football side.

“Like other football clubs, our commercial business allows us to reinvest in the football side. It’s how these two interact with each other at Manchester United that results in us having a competitive advantage in this area.

“There is a myth that we have non-football people making football decisions, and I think it’s insulting to the brilliant people who work on the football side in this club.

“Many of the senior staff on the football side of the club have been in their roles for over 10 years. Some of our scouts have worked with us for more than 25 years.

“We’ve expanded our recruitment department in recent years and we believe this now runs in an efficient and productive way. Player recommendations and decisions are worked on by this department and by the first-team manager and his staff, not by senior management.”

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