It’s no secret to anyone who has observed Premier League football that the executive vice-chairman of Manchester United, Ed Woodward, has been responsible for one of the most calamitous periods in the club’s history.
Manchester United are on their fourth full-time manager in Ole Gunner Solskjaer since Ferguson’s retirement and Ed Woodward has struggled to find someone capable of steadying the giant ship.
David Moyes from Everton lasted less than a year. Manchester United then went for experience at the highest level in the shape of the rather dull and droll Louis Van Gaal who limped on for two years. He was replaced by the spangle and fireworks of Jose Mourinho, but the football didn’t fit the brief and clutching at straws, ‘The Special One’ claimed the FA Community Shield was a major trophy.
In search of something comforting, they went for former Old Trafford favourite, Ole Gunner Solskjaer, who has inherited the monumental task of resuscitating the slumbering giant.
Ed Woodward has rubber-stamped a massive spending spree of over £800m and in return, Manchester United have had an endless stream of second rate performers and fallen from their perch as challengers for the Premier League.
Marouane Fellaini from Everton, Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid, Radamel Falcao from Monaco, Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich, Memphis Depay from PSV, Morgan Schneiderlin from Southampton FC, Juan Mata from Chelsea, Paul Pogba from Juventus, Eric Bailly from Villarreal, Nemanja Matic from Chelsea, Victor Lindelof from Benefica, Romelu Lukaku from Everton and Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Dortmund as the list goes one with players who were all part of the mismanagement under Woodward.
His head was firmly in the noose for a series of duff and distinctly underwhelming purchases until came Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP who may have just saved the jobs of Woodward and Solskjaer both. The Portuguese midfielder from Sporting CP could eventually cost £67.m but is worth every penny after a series of impressive displays in the famous United jersey and for the reinvigoration of sorts that he has led inside the Manchester United dressing room.
Meanwhile at Arsenal …..
Raul Sanllehi from FC Barcelona was drafted in to replace the dreadful and incompetent Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis, who had been in charge during the club’s decline in the Premier League but has fared no better. Gazidis will be credited with the awful appointment of Unai Emery, but Sanllehi was on board and had a voice, yet he did nothing.
He’s overseen the alterations at the top end of the Arsenal management structure but has also been responsible for several contract fiascos and a series of farcical deals including underwhelming loan deals. The loan deal of Denis Suarez was a disaster but former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi had much more in store.
He added William Saliba to the squad, an exciting and much-needed purchase but then, he loaned him straight back to St. Etienne. He was involved in the transfer of the injured Kieran Tierney and the loan of the injured Cedric Soares. Rather than spending hard cash, Sanllehi prefers to patch up a problem and he promptly added Pablo Mari on another loan.
The only saving grace for Raul Sanllehi is that Edu uncovered Gabriel Martinelli, who looks to be the biggest bargain of the last 20 years.
Sanllehí also unforgettably stood back during the unsavoury Özil/Emery spat whilst paying the German £350,000 per week for the pleasure of watching TV or sitting on the Arsenal bench.
He allowed Emery to fill up his backroom staff with analysts and bean counters that delivered endless streams of pointless data. Games are won with goals not wheelbarrows of statistics!
There are harder times ahead for Arsenal with huge question marks over the futures of Aubameyang and Lacazette but at least, he installed Mikel Arteta as head coach and hopefully Sanllehi will have less input on transfers in the summer.
The Don, as he’s become known, was said to be something of an interfering influence in his role as director of football at FC Barcelona and made numerous bad deals which facilitated his move to North London in the Premier League. I’ve been skeptical since the Spaniard’s arrival and I’m waiting for a moment to cheer his appointment and prove me wrong. It could be a long wait.