Ed Woodward Backs Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Hits Back at Manchester United Critics

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIOctober 17, 2019

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 21:  Ed Woodward executive vice-chairman of Manchester United looks on prior to the Premier League match between Everton FC and Manchester United at Goodison Park on April 21, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has hit back at the club's critics and given his backing to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 47-year-old has addressed criticism of the club's recruitment policy and the staff involved in making key decisions at Old Trafford at an annual meeting, per the club's official website:

"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."

The Red Devils have suffered a poor start to the season and have picked up just nine points from eight games to leave them in 12th place in the Premier League table, only two points off the bottom three:

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Woodward has come in for criticism for his role at the club. Former captain Gary Neville told Sky Sports (h/t the Mirror's Jake Polden) that he thinks Woodward "has had his chance" and should no longer be in his job.

Manchester United's transfer dealings have come under particular scrutiny. The club allowed attackers Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku to depart in the summer without bringing in any replacements.

Solskjaer's side have subsequently struggled for goals and have scored only nine in eight Premier League matches. 

Their poor form has seen Solskjaer came under pressure despite only being appointed as permanent manager, after a successful caretaker spell, in March.

Yet Woodward said the Norwegian is going about the job right way as he attempts to build a new team at Old Trafford, per the club's official website:

"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. 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."

Solskjaer brought in Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire in the summer transfer window, and all three new signings have made a good start to their Manchester United careers.

Yet the club are in need of further strengthening if they are to challenge for trophies once again. They are targeting eight new signings over the new two transfer windows, according to Jason Burt at The Telegraph.

Solskjaer is likely to come under increasing pressure this season if he can not turn results around. The club have gone three Premier League games without a win and face unbeaten league leaders Liverpool next.