“We see positive signs on the pitch and the training ground that reinforce our belief in the progress being made by Ole, his coaching team and the players.”
Ed Woodward has consistently backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since handing him a three-year deal as Manchester United boss in 2019.
Whenever the criticism has come, the Untied executive vice-chairman has been quick to offer a staunch defence.
“What happens on the field is clearly our top priority,” he added in last week fans’ forum. “And while it’s not the same without fans in the stadium, we’ve seen lots of highs since our last meeting in April, with that 14-game unbeaten run to finish third in last season’s Premier League run and great wins against PSG and RB Leipzig on our return to the Champions League this season.”
Unfortunately for Woodward and Solskjaer, those highs in the Champions League can now be erased, with United unable to navigate their way through the group stage.
Defeat to RB Leipzig on Tuesday night condemned the Red Devils to another year of Europa League knockout football.
And not only was the elimination damaging on the pitch, from a financial sense it will cost the club around £17million.
That monetary blow could impact the club’s ability in the transfer market, with Woodward reaffirming their commitment to backing Solskjaer in next summer’s window prior to elimination.
He said: “We will continue to support Ole with a planned, long-term approach to recruitment, focused on the summer windows.”
However, with United locked in a desperate scrap to retain their place in the Premier League’s top-four, he may be forced to shift his plans.
Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham will also fancy their chances of finishing above Solskjaer’s Red Devils, while the likes of Leicester City and Southampton have enjoyed impressive starts to the season.
If Woodward does wait until summer 2021 before backing Solskjaer in the window, it could be too late, with United falling even further behind, their Premier League and European rivals.
And should he move the goalposts on his transfer plans, it wouldn’t be the first time he has done so during his ill-feted time at the club.
Where will Man Utd finish in this season’s Premier League? Have your say here.
Back in November 2019, he once again suggested there was a “clear vision” in the transfer market, with Solskjaer seemingly switching to a policy of buying young British players.
Just two months later, that plan was revealed to be decidedly muddy with a hectic transfer window ending with the odd signing of Odion Ighalo.
The haphazard dealings then continued throughout the summer, with United missing out on Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and James Maddison.
Now with just three weeks until the window opens, Woodward may need to break one more transfer promise if he is to save his, and Solskjaer’s Manchester United legacy.
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