Manchester United’s fourth quarterly conference call of the year was held yesterday and it turned into a complete non-event.
United sit 18 points behind league leaders Liverpool after just 16 games, but judging from the call, you would think we were the club sitting at the top of the table.
This was the time for the investors to hold Ed Woodward and the United staff to account for the sub-standard results on the pitch.
It turned into a complete non-event which was full of the usual Ed Woodward PR spin we have all become used to.
What Woodward said
United’s chief executive presented his usual spiel about a desire to win trophies, play attacking football and trust youth players.
Woodward is quoted via ESPN: “We have a clear vision in terms of football philosophy and recruitment.
“The significant investments that we have made in recent years in areas such as transfers, recruitment infrastructure, analytics and our academy are already beginning to bear fruit.
“Our ultimate goal is to win trophies, playing fast, fluid, attacking football with a team that fuses graduates from our academy along with world-class acquisitions. We know this will not be achieved overnight, however we have made investments across the club that we believe have set us on the right path.”
Part of the problem is that we have heard it all before from Ed Woodward at this point.
Perhaps United are finally on the right track, but it is Ed Woodward and his failed policies which have led us into this path of having to rebuild in the first place.
United were reigning champions when Woodward was appointed and he has been the only constant over the past six years.
No United fan can trust him to deliver at this point. We can hope he has finally learned the error of his ways, but his track record does not fill us with hope.
This conference call was a chance for investors to publicly quiz Woodward on the club’s league position and inconsistent results and pile pressure on the Glazer regime.
It was an opportunity to once again press him over appointing a director of football which was first suggested a year ago.
There was a chance to ask whether the club means to be decisive in the transfer market in January and make signings to try and really push to secure a Champions League place.
An investor could have even asked Woodward to re-affirm his backing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and put him on the spot. They should have had a whole list of questions.
Instead what we got was pathetic. There was just one question and it was about the club app which was answered by commercial director Richard Arnold.
It’s just embarrassing at this point. If ever there was an indication of where the club’s priorities lie, the investors’ indifference to the team’s affairs here summed it up.
The common criticism of United from figures leaving the club like Louis van Gaal and Ander Herrera is that football plays second fiddle at Old Trafford to commercial interests.
There is no true fan voice or representative on the club’s board, and it showed.
Sitting seventh in the league and not even close to first, United’s fans have plenty of questions to ask, and nobody to ask them.
The club’s investors highlighted their own self-interest yesterday. They will be paid their dividends in January, that was confirmed. So who cares about anything else?
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