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Man United: We have funds for squad rebuild

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Manchester United will launch a huge rebuild this summer, according to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

In a call to investors on Thursday, United’s leading man revealed their third quarter financial results and said he will use the success of the business side of the club to rebuild the playing squad and give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the resources he needs this summer.

Despite finishing sixth in the Premier League this season and failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season, United’s performance off the pitch is on the up. Revenue is up 3.4 percent to $194.6 million and there was a 94 percent rise in operating profits to $18.1 million.

Here’s more from Woodward:

“Everyone at the club – the board, the manager, the squad and all the staff are resolute in our desire to get United back to the top of English football. We continually look to improve staff on and off the pitch to achieve this,” Woodward said. “The strength of our business means we have the financial resources to continue to provide a solid foundation for backing the manager and creating success on the pitch. This, as ever, remains our number one goal.” 

“The season that has just ended clearly didn’t end the way we hoped, finishing in sixth place and with a disrupted managerial change part way through,” Woodward said. ” However, Ole and the squad battled back from mid-December to put us in contention to qualify for the Champions League next season, but ultimately we came up short. While the last few weeks were disappointing, we are delighted to have confirmed the appointment of Ole as our manager on a three-year contract.”

It seems like Solskjaer will have money to spend, but that hasn’t fared too well for his predecessors at United. Both Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho spent plenty of cash but failed to rebuild this United squad in a manner which shows they are on the path to becoming perennial Premier League contenders once again.

Get ready for a summer of big spending from United, as Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, David De Gea and Romelu Lukaku have all been linked with moves away from the Red Devils.

Big change is needed, and it seems like Woodward is finally ready to accept it. This could pretty much be his last roll of the dice after lurching from one expensive mistake to another in recent seasons.

When will Ed Woodward be held accountable for Man United failures?

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Six seasons, five managers, three Champions League qualifications, zero Premier League titles.

That is the Manchester United story since they last trimphed over the English top flight in Sir Alex Ferguson‘s final season as Red Devils boss.

The leadership has been chopped and changed many times over, but there is one constant: Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who ascended to his current role in 2012 and was made top operational executive a year later after the departure of David Gill. Since Woodward took full control of the club, Manchester United has spiraled completely out of control, with the luster of 13 Premier League titles almost fully rusted away.

While Manchester United has collected three trophies under his watch, the two most coveted – the Premier League and Champions League titles – have eluded the storied club, instead settling for an FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League title (plus two Community Shields, as Jose Mourinho would tell you).

Still, Woodward has somehow escaped heavy criticism for his rocky tenure, with the first-team managers – far more publicly accountable figures than club executives – taking the brunt of the flak for losing streaks, negative tactics, mediocre youth development, and shambolic defending. Yet Woodward remains unscathed, free of full-scale scrutiny while everything he touches turns to ash.

Woodward’s history in the transfer market has been downright abysmal. Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Angel Di Maria, Fred, Eric Bailly, and Luke Shaw have all been purchased for enormous sums of money during Woodward’s time in charge, yet none of them have lived up to their financial burdens. It is impossible to truly know what Woodward’s exact role is in the transfer dealings, but as the top operational executive at the club, he is responsible for the consistent failures whether he has taken a hands-on approach or has delegated most of the duties to others. It’s time the buck stops at the top.

Since the start of the 2013 summer transfer window, Manchester United has shelled out a gargantuan $712 million in transfer net spend and the Red Devils are no closer to challenging for the Premier League title than when they began their quest to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. After losing to relegated Cardiff City to close out the 2018/19 Premier League season with little more than a whimper, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said it would take “a long time” for Manchester United to be in a position to compete for the league title. The Notwegian boss even dared to warn supporters to temper their expectations; the Europa League would be a reasonable ambition for the time being. Those words from a Manchester United mouthpiece like Solskjaer are a brutal indictment of Woodward and his leadership of the club over the past few years.

When Sir Alex departed, the team admittedly needed an overhaul. The legendary boss somehow squeezed one last triumph out of an old and dilapidated squad, as if fans needed yet another reason to revere the greatest manager the game has ever seen. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and Dimitar Berbatov were all over 30 and on their way out of the club while David De Gea, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Rafael, Fabio, Jesse Lingard, Danny Welbeck, and Adnan Januzaj were all 22 years old or younger and looking for guidance and direction as they continued to develop.

Instead, they were met with chaos and instability, as David Moyes, Giggs, Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho all tried and failed to restore order to the club. None of the managers were given enough time to establish any sense of consistency, and it’s unclear whether any of them were good enough hires that things would have improved if given that luxury. Instead of embracing the period of transition, the club fell into a form of purgatory, hoping to maintain a steady ship while also understanding that things would not be the same. Woodward, a career accountant, may know what it takes to secure a lucrative sponsorship, but eventually they need the on-field results to match the claim of the world’s most popular club, or the financial leverage will wane.

While many players and managers have come and gone over the past few years, Woodward has remained the only constant figure, and the longer the club continues to rot, the more obvious his role in allowing the club to fester. Now, he wishes to bring on a technical director (see: Director of Football) to help with on-field decisions and player acquisitions, a smart choice in delegating the football responsibilities but also another hire to get right. And yet…he’s reportedly looking to hire Darren Fletcher, who literally retired as a player one week ago and has zero executive or managerial experience, in what feels like more of a PR move than anything of actual significance.

With this year’s sixth place finish – the club’s fourth finish outside the Premier League’s top four over the last six years – it is time fans direct their frustration and unhappiness further up the food chain. Ed Woodward must be held accountable for the failures of the club, or the glory days of (actually not that) long ago will become an even more distant memory with every passing year.

Why Solskjaer getting the Man United job makes sense

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Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now the favorite to land the Manchester United job on a permanent basis?

That is the question circling the soccer world Monday morning, as a huge 1-0 victory at Tottenham saw the Norwegian coach became the first-ever United manager to win their first six games on the trot. Of course, David De Gea‘s brilliance was the main reason United beat Spurs, but it was still a huge moment as Solskjaer’s made a huge statement in his biggest test yet as a manager.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ] 

Solskjaer’s caretaker tag will see him in charge of United at least until the end of the 2018-19 campaign, and because he’s technically on loan from Norwegian top-flight club Molde this is a bit complicated.

There’s no doubt the calls for him to get the job are growing after beating Mauricio Pochettino Spurs, even though it is way too early to evaluate how he can progress this United team long-term.

But it makes sense on many levels.

[ MORE: Solskjaer, Pochettino respond to United links ]

He is getting the best out of the players at his disposal. The fans adore him and that will buy him time to turn things around. His connection with the club as a former legendary striker instantly gains him respect and leverage behind-the-scenes at Old Trafford. His tactical ability, along with assistant coaches Mike Phelan and Michael Carrick, was tested at Spurs and his first half plan was magnificent.

When you think about it, hiring Solskjaer to a long-term deal at United does make a lot of sense. He isn’t a player who has just retired and been thrown in at the deep end. He has grafted with United’s reserve teams, then at Molde, then had a tough spell at Cardiff City to toughen him up and is back at Molde doing well in Norway before this incredible opportunity arose.

For United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward Ole would be a much cheaper option instead of paying Spurs compensation for Pochettino, and then paying the Argentine coach huge wages.

But United owe it to their fans, to their players and Solskjaer to take their time and wait until the end of the season.

If Solskjaer has United in the top four, progressing deep in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds and the FA Cup, then he has to be the favorite to land this job.

United have tried everything since Sir Alex Ferguson left. The pragmatic approach in David Moyes. The two coaching behemoths of Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. None of them worked out.

Solskjaer is someone who has been handed a chance to impress and even though Pochettino should still be the leading candidate due to the way he transforms the entire philosophy of clubs on and off the pitch, the current man in charge of United has had the perfect start to life in the dugout at Old Trafford.

Sometimes the best solution is the simplest choice to make, and Solskjaer’s case as the best man for the job is growing week by week.

Man United appoint Solskjaer as caretaker manager

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been named as Manchester United’s caretaker manager until the end of the 2018-19 season.

Expect plenty of late winners coming up, as the chief architect of ‘Fergie Time’ is back home…

The United legend is essentially on loan from Molde in Norway’s top-flight, as he will return to coach them at the end of the current campaign. Just one day after firing Jose Mourinho, United have acted fast to try and steady the ship ahead of big changes coming up.

Solskjaer, 45, will be assisted by former United assistant coach Mike Phelan as first-team coach, while Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna will be part of his coaching staff.

In a statement released on their website, Solksjaer cannot wait to return to Old Trafford.

“Manchester United is in my heart and it’s brilliant to be coming back in this role. I’m really looking forward to working with the very talented squad we have, the staff and everyone at the club,” Solksjaer said.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward added that Solskjaer’s “history at Manchester United means he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back. We are confident they will unite the players and the fans as we head into the second half of the season.”

His history at the club will earn him immediate respect, as he scored the winning goal in the dramatic UEFA Champions League final win in 1999, plus won six Premier League titles and two FA Cups during 11 years at Old Trafford. He also managed the reserve team from 2008-11 and is known to be close to Sir Alex Ferguson.

This is an incredibly safe hire for United, as they aim to totally rebuild their soccer operations between now and next summer when a permanent hire can be made.

First up for Solksjaer is a trip to the only other Premier League club he has managed: Cardiff City, back in 2014, as he couldn’t lead them away from the relegation zone in the second half of the season. It is funny how these things work out.

United head to the Welsh capital on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) 11 points off the to four and 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, and Solskjaer’s main job over the next few months will be to get United back into the top four race.

More than that, his overall brief will be to return a positive mood to Old Trafford as Mourinho’s reign left a dark cloud hanging over the fans, players and everyone connected with the illustrious club.

Reports: Solskjaer to be Man United’s interim boss

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer dug Manchester United out of many deep holes by scoring late goals in his playing days at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Mourinho fired by United ] 

And now it appears United are turning to the Norwegian to rescue them once again.

Multiple outlets are reporting that current Molde manager Solskjaer will be appointed as United’s interim boss until the end of the current season after Jose Mourinho was fired Tuesday.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is believed to be United’s first-choice target but the Red Devils believe there is no chance of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy allowing Pochettino to leave mid-season. Laurent Blanc is also said to be in the running for the interim position alongside Solskjaer.

[ MORE: Bookies odds on new manager ] 

With Michael Carrick taking training for the next few days, United have said an interim boss will be appointed in the next 48 hours and lead them until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

It is believed that will give executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward time to totally rebuild the soccer operations at the club, with Mourinho said to not want to work under a technical director or other recruitment chiefs.

Solskjaer, 45, has had two successful spells in Norway’s top-flight in charge of Molde (winning the league twice and the cup in his first spell) but his move to the Premier League with Cardiff City in 2014 didn’t end well as the Bluebirds were relegated as the former United star arrived for the final months of the season.

[ MORE: Pochettino talks about United rumors

Why would Solskjaer leave Molde for an interim role at United? Quite simply, he loves the club. He was the reserve team manager at United from 2008-11 and is hugely respected by everyone behind the scenes.

Nicknamed ‘the baby-faced assassin’ during his playing days due to his clinical finishing, Solskjaer is a fans favorite. He scored 126 goals in 366 games for United, many of which came after coming on as a sub late in games, and won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League. He famously scored the winner in the UCL final for United against Bayern Munich in Barcelona in 1999.

Whoever takes over at United, it is all about creating a positive mood after the Mourinho era and trying to chip away at the current 11-point gap between themselves in sixth place and the top four.

The expectations for Solskjaer, or whoever takes charge for the rest of the season, are low and that could be a very attractive proposition as this group of players were clearly underperforming for Mourinho.