Ed Woodward is something of an enigma. After nearly three years and five transfer windows United fans have no real idea if he’s any good at his job or not. I mean sure, he’s a commercial titan, which is hidden well behind his cartoon playdough face, Desperate Dan stubble and Weeble body. He quite literally could sell snow to Eskimos and condoms to the Vatican. So go him. Woo. But can he acquire and sell fine football players, a skill which is rather important to his club? The evidence is a little contradictory, leaving millions of United fans a teeny tiny bit twitchy as the summer tour to the U.S. draws ever closer. Ed is big on briefing journalists and although he’s managed to cut back to one cheeky brief a week or so he’s still put himself under some pressure to deliver early signings. United, he told all and sundry, wanted their business done early. Well early is fast approaching mid-summer and the purchase of Memphis Depay is all he so far has to show for a window in which he needs four, maybe five more players to give Louis Van Gaal a realistic shot at the title challenge that, if it is not forthcoming, will have me and other reactionary, immature types frothing at the mouth. None of United’s rivals have made big splashes yet, so there’s still plenty of time, but then we need more players than they do. So can he pull it off?
Let’s start at the beginning. Fergie won his twentieth title and promptly retired. What a guy. David Gill stepped down too. We still don’t know to this day if he walked, as was reported at the time, or was pushed as a prominent fanzine’s editorial soon afterwards suggested. Either way, it was all change Chez Glazer. Ed was promoted to Vice President of the club, the owner’s favourite money-making toy, with no experience of football transfers whatsoever bar a short period in which he shadowed Gill. Also in came hapless Scot David Moyes, he of the vacant stare and small-team rhetoric. That summer Ed started talking. To everyone. He and Dave told journalists the players he wanted and cc’d them in when he made woeful bids for Cesc Fabregas. He talked about the vast amounts of money the club could spend and marquee players it could attract. Except it didn’t. Ed went on the Tour to the Far East and Australia, advised that he was coming home on ‘urgent transfer business’ and wasn’t seen again until, in the last seconds of the window, he paid £27.5m for Marouane Fellaini, a player he could have bought a week before for £5m less as per the terms of his contract. The final deal totalled more than the offer he had made earlier in the summer for both Fellaini and Leighton Baines. The final frantic days saw United fire offers off at every club in Christendom. They and their players LOL’d a lot, except poor Ander Herrera, who thought he’d got his dream move but in fact hadn’t. The window was a total write-off, which is about the only thing Woodward didn’t brief on. He looked an utter t*t. Dave to this day blames Ed. Ed, doubtless, blames Dave. I blame both of f*ckers. I suppose I should give some credit for him tying Rooney and Januzaj to new deals. So well done Ed. Anyway, the rest is history. Dave destroyed a title winning side and finished 7th and Dave paid vast sums of money in January to sign Juan Mata, a beautiful player that Chelsea didn’t want and one United didn’t exactly need. Or rather it was the last position on the pitch that needed investment, in a squad that was falling apart at the seams. Go Ed. Results got worse, Dave got canned, we all cried tears of joy. Yay.
Last summer Ed got Louis. This seemed like a much better choice and he was able to pull the Dutchman from the grasp of the mighty Tottenham Hotspurs. Louis was fun and had a ‘philosophy’. He’d also won stuff in the past, which you’d think would have been a prerequisite for the job a year before, but apparently f*cking not. Louis took an average Dutch squad to the World Cup, beat Spain 5-1 and steered them to 3rd. What a playa. Ed gave a one on one interview with MUTV on the pre-season tour to the U.S. and again talked about the millions that United would have to spend. He gave Van Gaal Ander Herrera and also teenage left back Luke Shaw for £30m. Nobody said a word, because we only mock other clubs for vastly overpaying for players. Plus it’s not our money and for nearly a decade most of the moolah has been heading in the direction of banks, so who cares. And yay again, Ed could do deals. For a short while we drowned in sh*t Woodward gifs and that picture of him in the stands at Old Trafford pointing, with assorted similar quotes revolving around him ordering dozens of players to attend medicals. It’s unclear whether Van Gaal knew who either Shaw or Herrera were, but beggars can’t be choosers, like. Then nothing, for a very long time.
It was a worrying time, for United needed a lot of players. A midfielder and two top centre-backs at the very least. Days turned to months and months turned to years and years turned to decades and decades turned to millennia and millennia turned to eons and still nothing. Then, with the window in its final stages and United’s season already looking to be on the rocks after a disastrous start on the pitch Woodward went all-action hero. And signed four players. Four! Praise be to Allah. None of them were top-class centre-backs or combative midfielders mind. Which was a bit annoying. But anyway, along came Marcos Rojo from Sporting in a fiendishly complicated deal. There was Daley Blind from Ajax and then, sweet baby Jesus, came Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao. Sure, United were only the Argentine’s second choice and we managed to pay £60m for a player his club wanted to sell, but again, not my money. Falcao was a deadline day delight, so he at least gave us pleasure for one day in his miserable year with us. It’s not Ed’s fault he can’t feel his legs. The rest is history. The season was average and the failure to strengthen key positions was costly.
And so to this summer, when the briefing seems to have stopped. Or almost stopped. Which suggests that either Ed has learned his lesson or Louis dunks his head down the pan every time he trieds to group email Ian Ladyman, Mark Ogden, James Ducker, David McDonnell and Ian Herbert. Poor old Jamie Jackson. Anyway, he’s shut up, and he half-inched Memphis Depay from under the noses of PSG and Liverpool, which was fun. But there has been nothing since and the days until the tour slowly tick down. He does however appear to be having some fun with Real Madrid over the sale of David De Gea. What the White Satan appear to have identified as an easy deal to do is proving to be anything but as Ed digs his heals in and asks for every player at the Bernabeu as part of any deal. The latest is Sergio Ramos, who probably just wants a new contract but appears to be close to be being pushed out. Madrid’s loss would be United’s gain.
The heat is on the cuddly Hislopalike, in a summer that could finally either make or break his reputation. Do the necessary and desired deals in good time and maximise the profit from De Gea’s impending sale and his Pacific disappearance in 2013 will be all but forgotten. Fail, or leave them so late that the team once again suffers and the knives will be out. And I’ll be very very cross indeed and will never ever ever ever forgive him. Which I’m sure will keep him awake at night. So no pressure Woody. Enjoy!
P.s. Shut up Javier, you whiny tart.