Old Trafford will be a graveyard for managers and footballers until Ed Woodward steps aside 10 months ago

Old Trafford will be a graveyard for managers and footballers 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.

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 confidante of the owners, the Glazer family.

Ed Woodward is a good 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 of the club, before assuming the lead operational role at Old Trafford following the retirement of ex-CEO David Gill.

But being a good businessman does not render him or anyone else qualified to oversee football operations at any club, especially one which has for decades considered itself the biggest and best in the world.

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 however is that Woodward's tenure at Old Trafford has also made it clear that he is significantly more concerned with making sure as many people as possible know that Manchester United are the biggest and best club in the world, rather than ensuring that it remains true in any way whatsoever.

To people like Woodward - people with no history or experience of 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 football, it can be seen on the identikit social media accounts of the world's biggest teams, and it is creating an environment in which Impressions and Engagement appear to be almost as important as what happens on the pitch.

But while the world's other top clubs (if you can even call Manchester United that anymore) have proven they can manage brand growth alongside success on the pitch, 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, and it results in a team containing talent such as Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford making Alexis Sanchez their highest paid player.

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 Woodward remains at the club.

Are the players underperforming? Yes. Is Jose Mourinho the right man for the club at this time? Certainly not. Will replacing either truly change things? No chance.

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 have.

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 record revenue until there is a fundamental change from top to bottom.