Biggest Problem with Man United? Ed Woodward Has Too Much Power



Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and many other preeminent sociopolitical pundits have warned us about the calamity of corporate hegemony. Brilliant minds such as the aforementioned have spent their careers telling us about the disasters that will unfold when all that matters is profits, profits and more profits.

We didn’t really think we’d see it, at least not this explicitly, in the wins and losses of a sports team, but here we are. Manchester United, failing to beat the Premier League’s bottom side, a team that was already relegated and had nothing to play for, are now officially back into the Europa League next season.

Under Executive Vice President Ed Woodward, this has unfortunately become a regular occurrence.


The main problem lies with him, and the Glazer family ownership above him. The club has gone nowhere but down since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, and the last five years have essentially been nothing but a running on a treadmill/trapped in a hamster wheel- plenty of energy expended to go absolutely nowhere.

They keep changing the managers and splashing the cash out on players, see massively underwhelming results, and then rinse and repeat. Why does this vicious cycle keep spinning this way? How come even very accomplished, elite managers have come to United lately and failed?

How can such an astronomically expensive team not produce? Why are talented and accomplished players not reaching their potential at Old Trafford?

Watch and listen to NBC Sports’ Kyle Martino here below, he seems to have the best explanation that I’ve ever heard so far:

He’s absolutely right about

1.) You have a finance guy making all the major decisions on everything else that has consequence on the club, but isn’t in his area of expertise.

2.) Ed Woodward is the corporate suit in the Premier League that everybody knows and that is a bad thing. CEOs in sports shouldn’t have such brand name recognition, and when they do it’s because everyone is angry that they are doing a bad job.

3.) Woodward is a brilliant marketer; he’s great with sponsorships and corporate partnerships.

Unfortunately, you need a football mind, and with all this talk of a Football Director to outline a recruitment and develop strategy (right now they have no transfer policy, except “just throw more money at the problem”), there is one extremely important aspect here that must be prioritized.


Ed Woodward needs to relinquish a lot of his power and responsibility, and it’s hard to believe that he actually will. If you’re going to have a Football Technical Director in place, whomever that may be, they will need real autonomy and authority.

This person would have to serve as a conduit between field manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Woodward/the Board of Directors. They can’t just be an appointed stooge for the guys in the c-suite.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets:Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, also contributes to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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  1. Allenby Chiltern says

    The problem at united lies obviously and directly with the ownership and then Woodward and it has been a growing problem since the Glazers completed their leveraged buy out all those years ago. They are essentially carpet baggers rolling into OT with empty bags stuffing the cash into the bag and running away again. They have no understanding of the European football culture brought up as they were in the franchised rootless culture of American sport. They lack vision, passion for the club and any semblance of responsibility for the situation we now find ourselves in. They were fortunate to begin with in having a genius for a manager in Ferguson who knew how to win titles with an average squad at the end and a genius for a CEO in David Gill who knew fpptball and had all the skills to push the club forward as a very successful business. Once those two left we were on the downward spiral characterised by a belief in buying players towards the end of their contracts and careers in the belief that their names alone would sell seats, paying those players ridiculous wages in order to attract them in the first place and failing to move with times and develop a holistic strategy for the club. When the cracks appeared their answer was sack the manager and shift the blame whilst stuffing the money into their back pockets or designer hand bag, money towards which they made no contribution whatsoever. What’s the solution? There isn’t one. Until they find, as they surely will, that the value of the brand name is worthless& and bail out for their last payday by which time it will be too late!


  1. […] In fact,this very website published an essay stating that opinion almost a month ago. […]

  2. […] The current shirt sponsor is Chevrolet, with the GM partnership, finalized in 2014, set to come to an end in 2021. It will be interesting to see if Chevy matches or even exceeds the offers MUFC receives from other brands. It is of course news items like these that keepsCEO Ed Woodward within the good graces of the Glazer family ownership. […]

  3. […] The real problem at United is the Executive Vice President Ed Woodward, an investment banker who knows nothing about football. The incoming Football Director, in order for the post to work, would need to have autonomy on his decisions, and enough cloud at the club to be able to make Woodward stay in his business ledger sheet lane. […]

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