Manchester United Investors Will Speak to Ed Woodward About Performance

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2016

Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward, centre, applauds before the team's English Premier League soccer match against Tottenham at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Wednesday Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Manchester United investors plan to quiz executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward about the club's performance on and off the pitch on Thursday following the announcement of the first-quarterly financial results of 2016.

A Wednesday report from the Press Association Sport (h/t Sky Sports) stated investors in the Old Trafford club are concerned by results on the pitch. Those worries are undermining the positive work Woodward is credited with away from the pitch:  

Woodward and his senior colleagues at United have pulled off some remarkable commercial deals recently, the biggest one being the world record £750m 10-year kit deal with German sportswear manufacturer Adidas.

But the team's performance on the pitch is clearly a consideration for those considering buying shares in the club.

Despite the commercial deals, though, Woodward is also likely to face tough questions about the recent dip in United's share price, which tumbled to a lowest figure since 2012 earlier this week: "At one stage on Wednesday afternoon, United's shares were worth $13.70 (£9.43) before rallying back above the $14 mark."

The drop in the share price is no doubt related to the worry about United's prospects on the pitch. Stunted form is also being matched by uncertainty regarding the future of the man in the dugout.

Manager Louis van Gaal's team is fifth in the Premier League, six points short of the top four with just 13 games left. Missing out on a repeat of last season's fourth-placed finish would mean not participating in next season's lucrative UEFA Champions League tournament.

Van Gaal's status is apparently a concern for investors.
Van Gaal's status is apparently a concern for investors.Jon Super/Associated Press

In turn, that would mean inevitable difficulties landing marquee players in the transfer market, with many top stars deeming a place in Europe's premier club tournament as a minimum requirement for a move.

Proving the capability to regularly finish among the Premier League's elite is about to become more pressing, according to the Guardian's Jamie Jackson: "From next season a high league finish will be even more of a priority, as each club that finishes fourth or better will earn £140m-plus."

It's against this backdrop that rumours of Jose Mourinho succeeding Van Gaal next summer are growing. The latest reports indicate the ex-Chelsea gaffer has told friends he's "certain" of getting the job, according to Sam Cunningham of the Daily Mail.

Hiring the man who has won three Premier League titles and a pair of Champions League trophies would no doubt restore confidence in United from investors.

Mourinho is reportedly getting closer to becoming United's next manager.
Mourinho is reportedly getting closer to becoming United's next manager.Tim Ireland/Associated Press

But even with Mourinho in charge, if United finish on the outside of the top four, the club will face a challenge convincing people they are ready to resume a place as the dominant force in English football any time soon.