Ed Woodward excited about season ahead

Friday 17 September 2021 12:00

Ed Woodward has hailed Manchester United’s resilience through the global pandemic and expressed his excitement about the season ahead following this summer’s recruitment of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho.

The executive vice-chairman praised the “amazing atmosphere” created by the return of fans to Old Trafford and said he was “more confident than ever that we are on the right track” on the pitch.

Speaking after the release of the club’s full-year financial results, Woodward described the past 12 months as “among the most challenging in the history of Manchester United” because of the pandemic and said “everyone associated with the club can be proud of the resilience we have shown through these most testing of times”.

“We said during the depths of the pandemic that the club would emerge in a stronger relative position, and I believe we are now seeing that borne out as we build towards recovery from a very solid foundation,” he said.

“The most important part of this recovery is the return of fans to Old Trafford and it has been fantastic to see and hear the stadium full for the first time in almost 18 months. The amazing atmosphere during the opening home games of the season demonstrates that fans are the lifeblood of the game, and we’re so glad to have them back.”

Woodward is “more confident than ever that we are on the right track”.

As the team prepares to visit West Ham on Sunday, Woodward praised Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the players for their strong start to the Premier League season and said “everyone at the club is feeling excited about the rest of the campaign”.

“We significantly strengthened the squad over the summer, with the addition of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho and Tom Heaton. These signings have demonstrated our continued ability to attract some of the world’s best footballers to Old Trafford, and our firm commitment to helping Ole deliver success on the pitch.

“We have been clear in our strategy to build a squad with a blend of top-class recruits and homegrown talent, comprising a balance of youth and experience, with the aim of winning trophies and playing attacking football the Manchester United way.

“As part of this, we have continued to strengthen our recruitment and scouting processes, and we have also increased our investment in the Academy, to ensure that this success is sustainable. While squad-building is a constant process, we are more confident than ever that we are on the right track.”

Woodward also highlighted the strong start to the season made by our women’s team, with two wins in the first two games of their Women’s Super League campaign under new Head Coach Marc Skinner.

“We are firmly committed to continuing to build our presence in the women’s game,” he added.

While our financial results were impacted by the pandemic, Woodward said we coped with the disruption better than many clubs because of the strength of our business model.

“It is not an accident that we have been able to invest this summer at a time when many clubs have been retrenching. This reflects the strong commercial model we have built over many years, ensuring that our spending is always underpinned by revenues that we generate ourselves,” he said.

Marc Skinner replaced Casey Stoney at the helm of our Women's side over the summer.

“However, while we are confident in our relative strength, it remains clear that football as a whole faces major financial challenges caused by years of material inflation in wages and transfer fees, exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic. We are committed to working within the Premier League, the ECA and UEFA to promote greater financial sustainability at all levels of the game.”

The long-term outlook for football was bright, said Woodward, as global interest in the game continues to increase.

“But no club can succeed on its own. We want to be part of healthy, vibrant domestic and European football pyramids, working together with our governing bodies and, most importantly, the fans, to preserve and enhance the magic of our game. As a club, we are committed to those objectives and we look forward to pursuing them in the months and years ahead.”