a month agoWoodward’s ‘positive’ address: Why Man Utd fans deserve to hear this before any shareholder

first_imgWoodward’s ‘positive’ address: Why Man Utd fans deserve to hear this before any shareholderby Chris Beattiea month agoSend to a friendShare the loveCOMMENT: It wasn’t addressed to them. It may not have even been for them. But these days, Manchester United fans will take what they can get from the club.There was a little bit of spin. A bit of political PR. But overall it hit the right note. Ed Woodward’s update to shareholders stopping in it’s tracks any credible claims that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s position was in doubt. Indeed, such was the detail and the vice-chairman’s tone that no-one on the call, or later reading the transcript, could claim any confusion about what the club and their manager are working towards. New, youthful arrivals. Promotion from the academy. Even the conscious plan to make room for their youngsters by sending senior players away on-loan. These were all planks in this current project highlighted by Woodward.That the support had to wait for a shareholders’ conference, however, is a shame. This morning, the club is in a better position than it was on Sunday afternoon in the aftermath of the humbling at West Ham. As is the manager, the players and Woodward. Indeed, even the fans should be happier with it finally articulated by the board’s representative of what United – as a club – is trying to do. Before it would be Solskjaer, or perhaps some intelligent guesswork from the likes of Gary Neville, the former club captain. But now the average supporter has Woodward on record about transfer plans, their youth policy and expectations of Solskjaer.Why Woodward only chooses to speak to shareholders, only he knows. Those whom have a piece of the club aren’t all fans. Indeed, some have driven nations to the brink of bankruptcy. Others are banned from certain countries. And the vast, vast majority have never held a season ticket.Woodward could do himself a big favour by speaking to the support once a month via MUTV, the club’s in-house TV channel. As stated, United – and indeed Woodward, himself – are better placed today after Tuesday’s conference call. It’s clear from Woodward’s tone that he and Solskjaer have a strong working relationship. Never has the vice-chairman name-checked a manager as much to shareholders as he did yesterday with the Norwegian. And cleverly – significantly – it was done as a veiled public vote of confidence.”It’s important we are patient while Ole and his team build for the future,” Woodward said. “We will continue to focus on the long-term strategy and won’t be influenced by short-term distractions.”For “distractions”, read results – particularly away from home. The defeat at London stadium was listless, but so long as Solskjaer’s young team heed the lessons from such a poor performance it can be still be a positive part of the rebuild.Which is exactly what is underway, as Woodward explained: “We remain focused on our plan of rebuilding the team and continuing to strengthen our youth system, in line with the philosophy of the club and the manager.”This is reflected in the recent addition of three exciting first team players, key player contract extensions and the talent we have coming through our academy.”Everything articulated by Woodward here is what we’ve seen from United on the pitch this season. Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire have all done enough to suggest they’ll be long-term players for the club. David de Gea and Marcus Rashford have been convinced to sign new deals. And we’ve seen Solskjaer bring through Mason Greenwood – and rewarded with the winner against Astana.And touching on this drive to give the club’s academy talent a real shot was, for this column, the real highlight of Woodward’s address. This was straight from the bootroom. Transfer and youth policy wrapped up in one. It was the sort of inside info you’d only get in an ex-manager’s biography. But here it was, all laid bare…”We are optimistic for the future,” declared Woodward. “The sale and loaning of players this summer has also allowed the manager to involve more of our young players and provide a firm foundation for the culture, ready for building the next trophy-winning squad.”So it’s been a deliberate effort. A genuine clearout. Not something for scribes to throw together under a screaming headline – but club policy. This United squad is undergoing an official overhaul.But that won’t stretch to the front office. As mentioned, there was some political PR performed by Woodward – and all centred around the director of football search. It was padded out with flowery words but basically, as this column has warned, it’s off. “Regarding the speculation around a head of football, we are continually reviewing and looking at the potential to evolve our structure on the football sides,” Woodward stated. So nothing imminent. Indeed, as we’ve stated here, it never really was.But that’s a topic for another day. The wash-up from this shareholders’ address was that it was one to give clarity to what the club is doing. It’s support for the manager. And confirmation of a genuine youth policy.For the United fan, there’s now no second guessing. It’s just too bad they were made to wait for a shareholders’ conference to learn all this. TagsOpinionAbout the authorChris BeattieShare the loveHave your saylast_img

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