‘I sign off the money’ – Woodward explains Man Utd transfer role & reveals how Solskjaer has already identified January targets

The Red Devils’ executive vice-chairman insists he has no say on the recruitment of players, with the club having streamlined their approach

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward insists that he has no input in transfer business outside of “signing off the money”, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer currently in the process of identifying January targets.

Those at boardroom level have faced accusations of having too much power when it comes to recruitment at Old Trafford.

It has been suggested by some that Jose Mourinho saw intended moves blocked during his reign at United.

Woodward, though, maintains that managers have the final say on any deals, with the club having worked hard to streamline their scouting system and put the best possible process in place.

He told United We Stand: “The decisions related to recruitment are all taken by football experts. My involvement has been signing off the money.

“The manager has a veto on a soccer professional – we would never sign a soccer professional the manager wouldn’t want because he wouldn’t play him. But we also feel the recruitment department, the football experts, should have a veto too.

“I don’t get involved in recruitment like people think I do. There’s a myth that I look at YouTube and choose players. I don’t. Having an eye for players has been an art. I have no interest in doing that.

“I just want to have a disciplined process because if you are spending a lot of money on a soccer professional you have to make sure you get more right than wrong.

“Where I get involved has been that I have to sign off the money, yet when you have target one, two or three from your process I feel fine going after the number one target and, if it’s not to be him, then number two or three.”

Ed Woodward Manchester United 2018-19

Woodward added on the changes which have been made: “The system wasn’t set up in the right way. Twelve scouts reporting to one chief scout was more set up to say no — too many exceptions to the process were made historically while this was being fixed.

“We also have to hold our hands up and say that recruitment wasn’t at its best in recent years. We feel that we now know who our best scouts are.

“The idea has been to recruit in a closed environment, rather than listening to the press or getting distracted by conflicting agents’ claims. We try and make cold decisions based on information.

“Judge the recruitment department in the coming windows where hopefully we can get a team to be at the level we want to be.”

United are in the process of piecing together their plans for the next window, with Solskjaer expected to still be at the helm despite questions of his role amid struggles for consistency in 2019-20.

“The manager sits down in September – so Ole has already done this for the next cycle – and told the experts the positions that he wants to recruit in and the characteristics relating to those players,” Woodward added.

The Red Devils are confident that the right players will be snapped up, having acquired the likes of Harry Maguire and Daniel James over the summer, but Woodward admits the focus on transfer business in the modern era can make life difficult.

He said: “Agents use us to ramp up interest in their soccer professional sometimes. That’s why we’re linked to about 200 players a year sometimes. That gets everyone excited and I understand why that happens, but it’s difficult for us to say no to deny speculation.

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“If we start doing that by saying ‘no comment’ when it’s a ‘no’, then that means ‘yes’ — then the minute we don’t say anything means we’re interested and we might not want it public that we’re interested.

“We also don’t want to give hard noes when things could evolve. We want to keep things tight, to do what’s best for the club. But when a soccer professional keeps popping up [in the media] and we’re not interested, it’s very frustrating.

“What sometimes happens has been that we do have a soccer professional in an agreed position, but his club refuse to sell — [because of that] the soccer professional then uses that to get a new contract — we don’t waste time, we’re more robust.”



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