In a few weeks, one of the people most hated by Manchester United fans of the past decade will end his role at Old Trafford. Since the birth of the Premier League, no club leader has caused as much controversy as Woodward.
MU and step back on the pitch
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Woodward has been the most powerful figure at Old Trafford, after the Glazers. Over 8 years in charge at MU, the man with two degrees in physics and accounting made many controversial decisions for the development of the team.
One could easily conclude that in terms of on-field performance, United have lagged behind themselves since 2013. As the club’s deputy chief executive, Woodward makes most of the decisions. important for the “Red Devils” both professionally and economically.
He decides on sponsorship deals, recruiting players or hiring and firing coaches. When Manchester United lost 0-2 to Olympiakos in the first leg of the 2013/14 Champions League round of 16, Woodward caught the eye when he grabbed his phone to snap a scoreboard and promised he would never let things get worse for the club.
It was true that Woodward and his American bosses made good on their promise after that year’s loss to Olympiakos. MU head coach in the 2013/14 season, David Moyes was fired not long after Woodward took the aforementioned photo.
Following the Scottish strategist, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Solskjaer became the next coaches to be sacked by Woodward. It cannot be said that Woodward does not understand the situation at MU. He quit his job at JP Morgan bank to start advising the Glazer family to buy the Manchester club in 2003.
In 2007, Woodward was in charge of the team’s commercial contracts. 6 years later, the man born in 1971 rose to the pinnacle of power when he became the deputy CEO of the club, an important position just behind the Glazer family.
However, the Man United leadership team, under Woodward’s leadership, has exposed a glaring lack of football expertise over the past eight years. It was Woodward who invited David Moyes, Van Gaal, Mourinho or Solskjaer to come back, only to have to regret firing them at the wrong time.
MU seems to have fired David Moyes and Van Gaal too soon, while leaving Mourinho or Solskjaer too late. Everything at Old Trafford for the past eight years has been like a never-ending mess. New coaches come and go, leading to a constant change in transfer strategy.
Until the time he was about to leave the leadership position of Man United, Woodward was still criticized by the fans for leaving an unbalanced team in the lines. Rangnick was the last coach that Woodward chose for MU.
Even the initial good signals when Ralf Rangnick was present are gradually disappearing. The German strategist has to deal with a series of problems internally as well as on the field of Man United.
Doubts about Rangnick’s talent as a coach appeared. The current captain of the “Red Devils” seems to be only suitable for MU in the role of Football Development Director.
New Chapter for “Red Devils”
If Rangnick had come to Old Trafford earlier and in a different role, things for MU could change. However, Rangnick’s role as Director of Football Development (or Technical Director) would collide directly with Woodward’s authority.
When Woodward officially left the MU executive chair on February 1, Rangnick could partially fill the power vacuum left by the former British accountant. That may be the reason why Rangnick accepted to be the interim coach of the “Red Devils” until this year’s season ends.
The 63-year-old strategist himself revealed that he once turned down an offer to be an interim manager of Chelsea last year. If Mauricio Pochettino or Erik ten Hag arrive at Old Trafford this summer, Rangnick will step up to the leadership position of the Manchester team in place of Woodward, mainly in the professional aspect.
Richard Arnold, who replaced Woodward in the chair of Executive Vice President of MU, is expected to bring a new breath of life to the team. Unlike Woodward, Arnold is supported by many MU fans because of his friendliness with the crowd.
For MU fans, the changes at the top only make sense when the team plays better on the pitch. Woodward may have succeeded in filling the Glazers’ pockets, but for “Red Devils” fans, the former banker is a failure and deserves to be hated.
Arnold or Rangnick himself must learn from Woodward’s experience. However, will the Glazers create conditions for the new leaders of Manchester United to avoid going into that same path? Are team owners willing to prioritize pitch performance over beautiful financial reports?
That is not an easy question to answer.