Ed Woodward to quit Manchester United amid Super League fallout

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Jamie Jackson
·3-min read
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<span>Photograph: Richard Heathcote/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Richard Heathcote/AFP/Getty Images

Ed Woodward has resigned as Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman and will leave the club at the end of the year.

The 49-year-old’s decision comes after eight years in the role. While there will be speculation that the development was related to United signing up to the European Super League, sources at the club claimed that this was not the case and that his departure was amicable.

Related: Super League plans unravel as Chelsea and Man City withdraw – live!

Woodward said in a statement: “We have invested more than £1bn in the squad during my time here and I am particularly delighted with the progress the players have made under the astute leadership of Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his coaching team in the last two years.

“I am sure that with the changes we have made on-field and to the coaching and football staff in recent years this great club will soon be lifting silverware again. It deserves to. I desperately wanted the club to win the Premier League during my tenure and I am certain that the foundations are in place for us to win it back for our passionate fans.”

The United co-chairman Joel Glazer said: “Ed Woodward has served the club with great distinction. On behalf of everyone at United I would like to place on record our sincere thanks for his tireless work and dedication.

“His contribution to the club has been massive, and he will always be welcome at Old Trafford.”

Woodward replaced David Gill in May 2013 when United’s chief executive left the club along with Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager. His tenure as the club’s most powerful executive has been turbulent and marked by only three trophies plus considerable fan unrest at United’s direction under him.

After David Moyes was recruited to replace Ferguson, the club’s most successful manager, Woodward endured a torrid first summer in charge of recruitment. An opening transfer window ended with only Marouane Fellaini’s £27.5m purchase from Everton to bolster Moyes’s bid to retain the title for United.

After 34 matches of the 2013-14 league campaign Moyes was sacked and United would end seventh in Woodward’s first season. The executive vice-chairman appointed Louis van Gaal as his second manager in 12 months and there followed a galático summer in which Radamel Falcao and Ángel Di María joined, the latter for a British record £59.7m.

After finishing fourth, Van Gaal’s recruitment in summer 2015 included Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was injury prone like Falcao, and Memphis Depay, a Dutch forward who failed to settle. This caused Woodward to continue to be the subject of disquiet from supporters and although Van Gaal claimed the 2016 FA Cup he was sacked the day after the final due to United’s fifth-place finish.

José Mourinho was Woodward’s third manager in three years when appointed in May 2016 but more instability followed. The Portuguese guided United to the League Cup and Europa League in his opening campaign but could only finish fifth. There was a second-place finish the next season but Mourinho began 2018-19 unhappy at Woodward’s recruitment decisions and in December 2018 the manager was sacked.

The executive vice-chairman’s next appointment was Solskjær and under the Norwegian United finished third in his first full season and are now second with six matches left.

Recruitment has also improved with a long-term strategy now in place while Woodward has overseen an overhaul of the club’s academy system. But with him leaving at the end of the year he will almost certainly not be in place if and when United next become champions.