Evra and van Gaal comments underline Woodward's failings once again

Louis van Gaal has lifted the lid to FourFourTwo about ten potential signings he wanted at Manchester United.

The list is mouth-watering; Neymar, Sergio Ramos, Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez, Robert Lewandowski, Gonzalo Higuain, Sadio Mane – and James Milner.

Of course, Ed Woodward was never going to sign all of those players.

But van Gaal’s admission that United ‘only got third-, fourth- or fifth-choice players’ is a damning verdict on the Englishman’s competence.

Same problems rearing their head

Perhaps some of the names on that list – Neymar, Ramos, Lewandowski – were completely unrealistic, and Leeds-born James Milner would have taken a lot of convincing too.


But Mane, Kante and Mahrez since moved to three direct rivals – Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, as United floundered under Woodward.

Ultimately, Woodward failed to get the players through the door that the manager he handpicked felt United needed.

We are seeing similar now, years later, with the Jadon Sancho saga coming after Bruno Fernandes was signed months after he should have arrived.

Woodward failed to deliver for van Gaal – and to varny degrees for David Moyes and Jose Mourinho – and is making a similar meal of the current transfer window.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Recent comments in the Guardian from United legend Patrice Evra showed Woodward’s lack of competence is not limited to failing to secure transfer targets.

The Frenchman said: “I felt betrayed by Ed. I called Juventus to tell them I am coming. Ed then said: ‘We offer you a two-year contract, more money, the captaincy, a testimonial.’ Too late.”

Woodward failed to extend the contract of a player who clearly loved United, just as he did last summer with Ander Herrera.

Within one season, both men were playing in the Champions League final; Evra in 2015, Herrera on Sunday night with PSG.

While United were never going to match PSG’s offer for Herrera, letting the Spaniard’s contract get to the final few months unrenewed was asking for trouble.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.