What 11 ex-players and pundits have said about Man Utd’s Ed Woodward
After another disappointing transfer window, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has come in for yet more criticism.
United have missed out on several top targets under Woodward, while they’ve also struggled to make money when selling unwanted players.
We’ve taken a look at what players, managers, pundits and journalists have said about the 48-year-old since he took his current role at Old Trafford.
“We know behind the scenes there is help needed, especially on the football side,” Scholes told BT Sport in November 2019.
“You look at the business side and it’s great, Ed Woodward is very good at that. But as a football man? I don’t think he’s a football man.
“In the past had Sir Alex and David Gill. David Gill was brilliant, absolutely brilliant, and he’s been a massive miss for the football club. He knew football players inside out.
“He knew a good player when he saw one and he disagreed with the manager, of course he did.
“Now is the time where there needs to be a bit of help for Ole. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some good people around – the chief scout, Mike Phelan, great experience.
“But now is the time when he really needs some help to really bring some top players to this club.”
“The recruitment has just been a downwards spiral over the course of six or seven years,” Ferdinand told BT Sport in January 2020.
“You look at one of the players that have come in: [Marcos] Rojo, [Radamel] Falcao, [Marouane] Fellaini, [Morgan] Schneiderlin, [Matteo] Darmian, [Memphis] Depay.
“Were these players ever Man United players, really? For different reasons, mentality, ability, style of play, were these players ever really United players?
“That’s really what I was getting baffled with a lot of the time, who is buying these players? Is it a manager that is coming in and buying these players saying I want these players for now?
“Or was it the club saying hang on, we are going to buy these players for now but also for the future. I don’t think that was taken into consideration properly and even now, you look at the team and £600million has been spent on this squad.”
“If I have a problem with Ed Woodward, I won’t talk on social media,” Evra said in September 2020. “I will just call him or meet him face-to-face about what I think about something.
“The only problem I would say to Ed is trusting people he should never trust. He even trusts people outside the club that he shouldn’t. That’s what I can say about Ed.
“People like Richard Arnold are why we’ve got money, these guys can make some sponsorship deal like you can’t imagine, so we’ve got the money, but we’ve not got the players because we send the wrong people to speak with them.”
“Most recently we have witnessed Woodward acting like a United superfan, apparently meeting a series of club legends who might take on the position of sporting director,” Carragher wrote in the Daily Telegraph in October 2019.
“None of those mentioned have any experience in such an important role in modern football. It smacks of image over substance.
“Responsible owners would not tolerate this shambolic approach to running their club, leading to an obvious conclusion.
“The Glazers do not care because United are making money regardless of what is happening on the pitch.
“In such a world, a pitiful defeat at West Ham – the most important event in the week for die-hard United – can be bracketed as a ‘short-term distraction’ by their chief executive.”
“I can’t change the ownership of United, no one can,” he said on the Gary Neville podcast in January 2020. “I’m struggling to understand why the ownership have persisted in trusting that management team to oversee the building of a Premier League title-winning team since Sir Alex [Ferguson] left.
“I saw a statistic two weeks ago that United have the second-highest wage bill in the world. And that’s the squad they’ve got. It’s unforgivable. It really is.
“I can’t believe the investment that’s been put into the squad in the last five, six, seven years and you end up with that out on the pitch. If you don’t lose your job for essentially overseeing that investment, that wage bill, and putting that team out on the pitch then I have to say something is really wrong.”
“Ed Woodward is probably the best in the world at making money,” Hargreaves told Stadium Astro in October 2019. “Commercially, he’s the best – United’s turnovers are at record levels.
“They still made money under Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill – but the football was best.
“Right now, off the field, they’re one of the best. But on the field, it’s not and they need to manage that, get more people at the club.
“They have to take this football product and take it to what Liverpool and Man City have.
“Ed Woodward is partly responsible. It’s not just Ole, it’s not just the players – it’s the collective. You need a plan. Right now they’re just reacting.”
“If they were to need to get a new manager, it would be Woodward’s fault as the person he employed to manage the team, has not worked out,” Parker told Bet O’Clock in December 2019.
“He has to be held responsible for the people he is bringing in. With every business, you need structure to be able to function, but United don’t have one at the moment. They are being used more as a bank than a football club.
“The structure of how the club is run needs to change first and then you can look to bring a new manager in. Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club and the team, so it worked for him.
“At the moment, there is no cohesion between the club, the coaches and the team upstairs working doing the business.”
Louis van Gaal
“At Bayern, the people in charge are football men. I always appreciated that,” Van Gaal told German magazine 11 Freunde in 2019.
“At Manchester United, on the other hand, Ed Woodward was installed as CEO — somebody with zero understanding of football who was previously an investment banker.
“It cannot be a good thing when a club is run solely from a commercially-driven perspective.”
“Ed Woodward. While he’s there I can’t see things changing,” Cundy said on talkSPORT in September 2019.
“Ever since the Louis van Gaal appointment and then sacking, there’s a reoccurring theme. His record in the transfer market is pretty average.
“It’s not rocket science to go and sign Paul Pogba, and make him the world’s most expensive player. You’re not going to get any credit for that, because you’re signing one of the most well-known names in football, and for a world-record fee.
“I feel for Solskjaer – and Solskjaer is out of his depth – but I feel for him. But giving him the job when they did, and I said it at the time, I don’t get why they gave it to him then.
“You didn’t have to give it to him. Let him go until the end of the season, see how things pan out, see what the feel is, see how you end the season. Well, the end of the season after that, it’s continued into this season.
“I listened to Solskjaer’s post-match interviews… he doesn’t sound convincing to me. But for me, while Woodward’s there, the problem is going to exist.”
“Woodward is not a malevolent man, but he is the frontman for a regime that has ripped the heart out of a club that once ruled the English game,” Holt wrote in the Daily Mail in January 2020.
“He does not deserve to be abused and threatened but nor does he deserve to be in charge of a club like United. In the seven years since he took over from David Gill, he has been a spectacular failure. Woodward is clearly a very talented financial operator but he is blinded by celebrity and by reputation.
“This is a man who, it is reported, addressed Wayne Rooney as ‘Wazza’ when he texted him as if he wanted to be his friend. This is a man who hired Louis van Gaal and Mourinho when they were both past their sell-by dates.
“This is a man who blew United’s chance of hiring Jurgen Klopp six years ago by trying to sell United to him as ‘an adult version of Disneyland’.
“This is a man who has sanctioned the purchases of has-beens with famous names and of journeymen who barely survive a season.
“This is a man who thought he could throw money at the situation and found out, perhaps for the first time in his life, that money can’t buy everything. This is a man who has turned Manchester United from a football club into a trading floor.”
“He has presided over shabby sackings, three seasons without silverware, the undermining of a manager, the inexplicable contract renewals and dilatory transfer windows,” Luckhurst wrote in the Manchester Evening News in October 2020.
“A former United employee who knows Woodward said he has never encountered anyone like him in football and that ‘Ed f—s up deals’. Woodward has reduced United to haphazard has-beens.”