United celebrate the opening goal against Watford.

Woodward outlines United's number one priority

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has reaffirmed the club's number one priority is playing entertaining football and winning trophies.

Speaking on the quarterly update call for investors, Woodward detailed the progress being made on and off the pitch as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Reds embark on the decisive spell of the 2019/20 season, competing for silverware at home and abroad.

He is also proud of the work being undertaken at Academy level with Old Trafford preparing to stage the quarter-final tie of the FA Youth Cup against Wigan Athletic on Friday night.

Ole and Ed Woodward.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ed Woodward in Spain.

“I want to provide an overview of progress towards our number one priority - winning trophies with a team playing entertaining, attacking football,” said Woodward. “Since our last call in November, we have progressed to the knock-out stages of the Europa League; we are through to the fifth round in the FA Cup, and we remain in the mix to qualify for the Champions League.

“This season is one of rebuild, with many changes to the squad - in terms of players who have left or gone out on loan; new players who we have brought into the club; and Academy graduates that we have brought through to the first team. This process will continue as we implement our plan and our footballing vision under Ole and his coaching staff.

“Despite being linked in the media to 111 players in January, our acquisition of just one of them - Bruno Fernandes - is an important step in that direction, demonstrating our commitment to adding experienced, world-class recruits to the exciting crop of Academy graduates that are at the heart of this developing team,” he added.

“We will take the same planned, disciplined approach this coming summer. In addition to the first-team signings, somewhat under the radar, we have also made a number of exciting youth acquisitions in the past year, reflecting our commitment to bringing the best talent into our Academy. So far, our Academy graduates have contributed over a third of first-team playing minutes this season and over half of our goals, emphasising our Academy’s status as one of the most productive in elite-level European football.

“This is an important competitive advantage for us and represents an excellent return on the fourfold increase in investment that we have made in the Academy over recent years.

Meanwhile, Old Trafford continues to be the subject of more investment to ensure it remains one of the most iconic venues in world sport.

Group managing director Richard Arnold explained: “As Old Trafford celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, these investments demonstrate our commitment to maintaining its status as one of the iconic football stadiums in Europe, whilst preserving the unique heritage and character which sets it apart from more recently built venues.

“We have worked with fan groups on measures to further enhance the matchday experience in general admission areas, including the successful trial of an atmosphere section in the Stretford End and an application with relevant safety authorities to trial rail-seating in an area of Old Trafford where fans persistently stand. These steps, together with the freeze in season-ticket prices for the past eight consecutive seasons and the cap on away ticket prices in the Premier League, reflect our commitment to engaging with our loyal match-going supporters to keep Old Trafford safe, full and atmospheric.”

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