Paul Scholes

Getty Images

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

3 Comments

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.

Salford City promoted to the Football League

Getty Images
1 Comment

Salford City’s dream has become a reality.

The team backed by Manchester United and Premier League legends David Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt, plus billionaire Peter Lim, won promotion to League Two on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

Salford beat AFC Fylde 3-0 in the National League playoff final to clinch their first-ever promotion to the fourth-tier of English soccer. Head coach Graham Alexander took over last summer and was handed a huge budget to guide Salford to promotion.

Mani Dieseruvwe, Carl Piergianni and Ibou Touray scored the goals for Salford, as their incredible rise continues and the United legends celebrated in the stands at Wembley at the final whistle.

Backed by Lim’s money and the expertise and contacts of Neville and Co. behind-the-scenes, Salford have achieved four promotions in the last five seasons to secure their spot as one of the 92 Football League teams for the 2019-20 season.

Salford’s aim is to at least reach the Championship, the second-tier of English soccer, as the Lancashire club aim to become one of the best supported teams in the Manchester area as they offer something completely different to the giants of Man United and Man City nearby.

WATCH: ‘The Impossible Dream’ details Man United’s amazing treble

Leave a comment

It is likely you still remember where you were when this happened.

Manchester United’s amazing treble-winning season is still one of the greatest achievements in soccer history, and in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Man United’s historic 1998-99 season, NBC Sports debuts “The Impossible Dream” focusing on the incredible achievement led by Sir Alex Ferguson.

STREAM THE MOVIE RIGHT HERE

The documentary looks back at the club’s unprecedented run to the three most prestigious club trophies an English team can win — the Premier League, the FA Cup, and the Champions League.

United clinched the three trophies in a thrilling stretch many recall as the “10 Days in May” as the likes of David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer starred for Sir Alex with amazing celebrations lasting for days in the red half of Manchester.

“The Impossible Dream” premieres this Sunday, April 28 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, following the Red Devils’ match against Chelsea.

You can also watch the movie on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app by clicking on the link above.

Take a look at the video above to get a taste of what you can expect.

FA charge Paul Scholes in relation to betting rules

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maybe this was why Paul Scholes stepped down as Oldham Athletic’s manager after just one month in charge…

The Manchester United and England legend has been charged by the English Football Association in regard to their betting regulations.

In a statement the FA confirmed that Scholes, 44, has been handed a misconduct charge regarding allegations he placed 140 bets on games between August 2015 and January 2019.

Scholes is a minority owner of Salford City, who sit in the fifth-tier of English soccer, and took charge of Oldham for just over one month in 2019 as he arrived on Feb. 11, then departed on Mar. 14.

So, Scholes didn’t make any bets while he was manager of Oldham, but he did while he was a director of Salford City which is against the rules.

In a similar situation Joey Barton was banned for 18 months after being found guilty of breaching the FA’s betting rules.

Below is the statement in full:

Paul Scholes has been charged with misconduct in relation to The FA’s Betting Rules. It is alleged he placed 140 bets on football matches, contrary to FA Rule E8, between 17 August 2015 and 12 January 2019. He has until 26 April 2019 to respond to the charge.

Paul Scholes resigns as Oldham manager after just one month

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Paul Scholes‘ first coaching gig lasted just over one month.

The Manchester United legend took over at fourth-tier Oldham Athletic in February, but just 31 days later he has stepped down from his boyhood club as he said it had become clear he would “not be able to operate as I intended and was led to believe prior to taking on the role”

Scholes won once in his seven games in charge, drawing three times and losing three games. Oldham are 14th in League Two.

Here is the statement in full, as Scholes will now presumably move back into his role as a TV pundit for BT Sport in the UK while he continues to look for coaching opportunities.

“It is with great regret I have decided to leave the club with immediate effect. I hoped to at the very least see out my initial term of 18 months as the manager of the club I’ve supported all my life. The fans, players, my friends and family all knew how proud and excited I was to take this role.

“In the short period since I took on the role it unfortunately became clear not be able to operate as I intended and was led to believe prior to taking on the role. I wish the fans, the players and the staff — who have been tremendous — all the best for the rest of the season and will continue to watch and support the club as a fan.”

The legendary 44-year-old midfielder has obviously had a huge disagreement as to how the club would be run, as Oldham owner and chairman Abdallah Lemsagam was heavily involved with the club.

It appears Scholes was promised plenty but saw that things were not to his liking early on.

But, maybe a return to Oldham could happen. Scholes retired as a United player, then returned eight months later due to an injury crisis at the club. He retired, officially official, 18 months later.