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Woodward defends Man Utd recruitment policy from 'insulting myth'

10:54 PM GMT 17/10/2019
Ed Woodward Manchester United
The executive vice-chairman is confident the Red Devils will return to competitive ways as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is backed by a strong recruitment team

Manchester United's transfer strategy is now more "efficient and productive" than it has been in recent years, according to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, as he hit back at criticism surrounding the club.

The Red Devils have had an underwhelming start to the new season as they sit 12th in the Premier League after eight matches, just two points above the relegation zone.

While pressure is mounting on coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Woodward and the club's owners have long been the subject of criticism from the fans and media amid their fall from grace since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure in 2013.

But Woodward hit back at claims that United's priorities have shifted from silverware to commercial success, insisting that the recruitment department has improved.

“There is a myth that we have non‑football people making football decisions, and it’s insulting to the brilliant people who work on the football side in this club,” he said in an address to staff.

“Many of the senior staff on the football side of the club have been in their roles for over 10 years. Some of our scouts have worked with us for more than 25 years.

“We’ve expanded our recruitment department in recent years and we believe this now runs in an efficient and productive way.

"Player recommendations and decisions are worked on by this department and by the first-team manager and his staff, not by senior management.”

He added: “What’s important is the commercial side is never allowed to take priority over the football side. We are an incredible 141-year footballing institution with all that history, all that legacy, all that tradition and that tradition of success. That can never, ever change. We need to keep that protected."

Despite United's poor results, Woodward praised Solskjaer's influence on the squad since he replaced Jose Mourinho at the helm last December and backed the Norwegian to make the team competitive again.

"Ole has also instilled the discipline back into an environment where we may have lacked it in recent years,” he said. “He is building a squad that respects the club’s history, in which players work hard and respect their teammates. No one is bigger than the club.

“The changes we saw over the summer have resulted in a very young squad, but it’s also a squad with the players and the culture that provides a base camp for us to build and grow from as we start our new journey," he said.

"Ole’s vision maps exactly to the core three football objectives we have: we must win trophies, we must play attacking football and we must give youth its chance.

“The middle section of last season, after Ole’s arrival, feels most relevant to what we want to achieve and where we want to be,” he said. “We saw a team playing fast, fluid football, with a clear representation of the style and philosophy the manager wants.”