Taking over the reins from David Gill in 2013, Ed Woodward attracted a lot of criticism for failing to come through in the summer transfer window as David Moyes assumed office at Manchester United. Having made a name for himself as the head of commercial operations at the club, the new CEO was ridiculed for unsuccessfully pursuing the biggest names in European football only to end up paying A?27.5m for Marouane Fellaini, who was signed in the closing hours of the transfer window in 2013.
As fans clamoured for his resignation, Woodward managed to earn a respite after he successfully signed Juan Mata from Chelsea in a bid to rescue Manchester Uniteda s flagging season. However, speaking in August 2014 with the DailyMail, David Moyes made it clear that Ed Woodward failed to back him in the transfer window.
. “Ita s been well documented that we wanted Fabregas, Bale and Ronaldo. There was talk of Ronaldo when I first arrived. We were close to getting a couple of major names. Ia m not getting in a blame game here but things just didna t materialise. I had taken over from the most successful manager in history. The chief executive had taken over from one of the most renowned administrators in the game [David Gill]. So it was a new job for two people.”
It was only in the summer of 2014, when Ed Woodward made his proverbial a arrivala in the English Premier League as he successfully closed negotiations in order to meet Louis Van Gaala s demands at the club. Manchester United signed the likes of Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria and Daley Blind, only to cap off the successful window by roping in Radamel Falcao on the deadline day on a yearlong loan deal.
Needless to say, this summer looked promising for Manchester United. Having qualified for Europe, Ed Woodward and Louis Van Gaal managed to ward off interest from Liverpool to sign Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven. The arrival of the new No. 7 was followed by the capture of Bayern Munich star Bastian Schweinsteiger, who belongs to that rare breed of footballers who have won everything in football. Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian too made their appointment with Ed Woodward and were followed by the arrival of Sergio Romero.
And though this might appear to be a successful transfer window for Ed Woodward and Manchester United on paper, the reality of the situation paints a completely different picture.
The Swap-Deal That Never Was
Manchester United and Real Madrid clashed vehemently in 2008 as the two clubs tussled over Cristiano Ronaldo, much to the chagrin of Sir Alex Feguson. This summer, Real Madrid attempted to woo David De Gea from Old Trafford.
Much of the headlines were dominated by the David De Gea-Sergio Ramos swap deal this summer as the Spaniard refused to extend his contract with Manchester United. The Red Devils on the other hand were linked with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema before transfer rumours zeroed in on Sergio Ramos.
But as the summer transfer window inches towards its deadline, not only has Manchester Uniteda s reported interest in Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema fizzled out, Sergio Ramos recently extended his contract with Real Madrid, leaving David De Gea disgruntled in the stands. While Madrid managed to hold on to their defender, Louis Van Gaal has managed to literally distance David De Gea further away from the club after accusing him of being a distracteda . This was followed by a subsequent demotion to the stands with only Victor Valdes for company.
With the future of De Gea still up in the air, his constant refusal to sign a contract extension at Old Trafford essentially counts as a failure for Ed Woodward even though the Spaniard was offered a highly lucrative contract to stay with the club. Even if United refuse to sell him to that a moba this summer, the goalkeeper will be free to negotiate with a club of his choice at the start of next year.
Manchester Uniteda s failure to sign a defender is highlighted by the fact that Louis Van Gaal has resorted to playing Daley Blind in the left centre-back position alongside Chris Smalling. United were linked with a move to Mats Hummels and Sergio Ramos this summer along with Valenciaa s Nicolas Otamendi. While Hummels and Ramos could not be lured away from their club, Otamendi was snapped up by city-rivals Manchester City for a reported figure of A?32m. Though reports suggest that United were never keen on signing the Argentine to begin with, the fact remains that Louis Van Gaal has a dearth of defenders as he hopes to mount a title pursuit this season.
Manchester United: Destination Not Preferred
Manchester Uniteda s failure in the transfer market was further highlighted by the departure of Angel Di Maria and the cluba s subsequent failure to sign a replacement despite being linked aggressively with a move for Pedro.
Citing a lack of creativity in the squad, Louis Van Gaal hinted that Manchester United were keen on signing a a Neymara which stood in stark contrast to the treatment meted out to Angel Di Maria following his record-breaking move from Real Madrid. Played out of position, the winger suffered a miserable start to this career at Old Trafford and eventually decided to move to Paris after refusing to turn up for the pre-season tour. Brought in for a British record fee of A?59.7million, the Argentine eventually forced a move to PSG for a reported sum of A?44.3m, highlighting Manchester Uniteda s inability to retain the talented player.
Having sold off Angel Di Maria, Manchester Uniteda s unsuccessful pursuit of Pedro further raises questions regarding the transfer policy adopted at Old Trafford. While Louis Van Gaal admitted to being interested in the Spaniard, opposing reports emerged as Chelsea swooped in to hijack his move from Barcelona. Initial reports suggested that the move was called off by Louis Van Gaal while others reported that Pedro was already on his way to London by the time the decision was taken by Manchester United, suggesting that he had refused a move to Old Trafford.
Going by Manchester Uniteda s reported interest in Nathaniel Clyne and Roberto Firmino, this wasna t the first time Ed Woodward and Louis Van Gaal were allegedly rejected in favour of another English club this summer. Despite being linked with the above players, Manchester United lost out to arch-rivals Liverpool as the duo opted for a move to Merseyside ahead of the start of the season.
As Chelsea and Liverpool fans gloat over going a one-upa on United, Manchester United is now being linked with a move for Southamptona s Sadio Mane as Louis Van Gaal and Ed Woodward continue to unsuccessfully scourge the market for fresh recruits.
The Pursuit Of Thomas Muller
a There are some players who just dona t have any price tag. We would be out of our minds to sell MA?ller.a
Manchester Uniteda s interest in Thomas Muller is well-documented. Louis Van Gaal was keen to sign the German international shortly after his arrival at Old Trafford but despite insistently pursuing the striker, United failed to lure him away from Munich as Muller extended his contract at the club.
Fast forward to August 2015, Guardian cited Sport-Bild as its source while reporting that Manchester Uniteda s audacious a 85m bid for Thomas Muller was duly rejected by the club. Bayern Municha s chief-executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has made it abundantly clear that the German striker was not available in the transfer market, going so far as to reassure the fans that Bastian Schweinstieger would be the only player joining Manchester United from the club.
Despite Manchester Uniteda s ambitious bid for Muller and the fact that the striker would reportedly stand to double his salary following a move to Old Trafford, Muller will not be able to force a move out of the club after signing a contract extension which runs till 2019. Though his fractious relationship with Pep Guardiola has been highlighted in favour of Manchester United, the fact remains that the Bavarian giants cannot be coaxed to part with their star player on monetary grounds.
Manchester Uniteda s public pursuit of Thomas Muller once again highlights Ed Woodwarda s inability to compete and negotiate successfully with top European clubs. Speaking in his latest press conference, Louis Van Gaal was put on the spot regarding Ed Woodward’s ability to lead Manchester United.
a I have the idea that you want to separate Ed Woodward with me. No, never. Every day I am updated by him and I trust him. I dona t think they (fans) have to doubt Ed Woodward because he has proven already for many years he is the right person on the right spot.a
Only time will tell.