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Have Man Utd fans finally had enough of Woodward and the Glazers?

13:23 GMT+3 15/01/2020
Ed Woodward Manchester United GFX
Protests at Old Trafford last weekend were in poor taste but showed that some supporters have clearly run out of patience with those running the club

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will be concerned that the club's fans turned on him and the Glazer family during Saturday's Premier League victory over Norwich City at Old Trafford.

In isolation, almost nothing had changed since the games against Manchester City and Wolves before the visit of the Canaries. Perhaps that was the problem. Perhaps it was that almost nothing had changed since the sacking of David Moyes during Woodward’s first season in charge at United and the supporters have finally shown that they've had enough.

Moyes had succeeded the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm in 2013 expecting at least one and possibly all three of Cesc Fabregas, Gareth Bale and Leighton Baines to be added to his squad. Instead, he was given Marouane Fellaini.

The net result was Moyes being sacked 10 months into a six-year contract, with United seventh in the Premier League table and already out of the running to qualify for Europe.

The former Everton boss was undoubtedly a disaster but he could still claim he wasn't adequately backed in the transfer market. Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have no such excuse. Both were given adequate support, at least initially. However, both were ultimately let down by Woodward's dawdling.

Van Gaal returned the club to the Champions League but when Woodward suggested he could sign Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos for the Dutchman, he ended up delivering nothing.

Similarly for Mourinho, he was expecting to build on his second-place finish with the addition of Tottenham central defender Toby Alderweireld, but ended up scrabbling around for Jerome Boateng on loan. At every other turn, Woodward has failed to keep the momentum going after doing just enough to kickstart the club after his latest misstep.

The same thing appears to be happening now. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, for all his troubles, has the team on the cusp of the top four. He has been helped by the inability of Frank Lampard's relatively young Chelsea side to pull away from the chasing pack, but it is to the Norwegian's credit that he has taken a team without a worthy midfield to fifth place.

Regardless of his tactical and public relations limitations, almost every partisan and neutral observer realises that a couple of sensible additions would make Champions League qualification likely. Even if it didn’t, the arrival of Bruno Fernandes and another player of quality would make the upcoming summer a decent platform to build from.

Fans know, too, that Solskjaer won’t be the manager indefinitely. He seems a benign presence but he lacks ruthlessness. Because he has been given the job due to his playing achievements and emotional attachment to the club, rather than an unimpeachable CV, he does not kick up a stink over transfers.

Dealing with a midfield running on fumes will likely cost him his job, but it will also keep him in place until the end of the season. It is clear that he has little overall effect on the problems at the club. Rumours of contact with Mauricio Pochettino make it clear how weak a hold Solskjaer has over his own future.

For supporters at the ground, there may be no way back for the owners – not a route that the Glazers are willing to stomach, at least.

Matt Judge, the man now held responsible for transfers unless there is credit to be dished out to Woodward, has delivered nothing this year.

Erling Haaland was expected to arrive at Old Trafford this month but ended up joining Borussia Dortmund. The absolute 'gimme' of Mario Mandzukic was passed up, and Jadon Sancho seems to be understandably sceptical of giving up a well-run Dortmund for a basket case.

There have been too many failed transfer windows for supporters to maintain their faith in those calling the shots. Both the late blitz to kickstart Van Gaal’s tenure and the arrival of Pogba are long ago.

The mistakes have piled up as quickly as the deadwood, and there are only two constants throughout this: Woodward and the Glazers. While it is hardly polite for United’s support to sing of putting executives and owners on a bonfire, it is the logical response of years of frustration.

Off the pitch, commercial revenues have gone through the roof under Woodward, with corporate sponsorship, ticket sales and broadcast revenue hitting new heights almost every year. On the pitch, there has always been just enough talent to keep things afloat.

But it's not sufficient to compete with the two new dominant forces in English football.

When Manchester City were taken over, they immediately became a credible threat to United's supremacy. Seeing them as a great rival was to be expected – few teams could resist those massed resources. And so it has proven.

The problem for Woodward is that Liverpool have shown that there is also another way. You need hundreds of millions of pounds to spare, yes, but United have that. Liverpool have demonstrated that if you ally a sizeable investment with a long-term strategy carried out by a team of professionals and experts, you can be the very best team in the world.

That is the opposite of Woodward’s path, indiscriminately flinging money around one minute, endorsing austerity the next. The worry for him now is that the majority of fans can no longer be fooled.

Anecdotally, there are reports of fewer ‘tourists’ – fans who come from abroad to enjoy a solitary game at Old Trafford for just once in their life – as the product no longer matches up to the brand.

People talk of fatigue when it comes to watching problems from a position of no influence. Brexit fatigue, climate change fatigue, crisis fatigue in general – if such a thing exists, then who could blame United fans for looking to the executive box and starting to think that what they have now is simply a case of incompetence fatigue?