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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.

USMNT, Newcastle defender Yedlin has surgery

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DeAndre Yedlin has had successful surgery as he battles to be fit for the U.S. men’s national team this summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Yedlin, 25, missed Newcastle United’s game against Liverpool on Saturday and now it has been revealed that he flew back to the USA to have surgery on his groin.

In a statement Newcastle said that Yedlin had “undergone successful surgery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this week to repair a groin injury” and added that his recovery “will be monitored by Newcastle United and US national team medical staff, with the CONCACAF Gold Cup taking place this summer.” 

The former Seattle Sounders star has been a consistent performer for Newcastle in his third season at St James’ Park, with 28 starts in the PL this season. Javier Manquillo has pushed him hard for minutes in the right back position, but Yedlin has improved defensively under Rafael Benitez despite a few errors leading to penalty kicks and goals for opponents.

Going forward his pace offers Newcastle plenty of options out wide (his goal at Man City earlier this season proved that) and it’s safe to say Yedlin is the first-choice right back for the Magpies with his distribution in the final third improving season after season. This injury seems like one he has been carrying for a while, and with Newcastle safe from relegation a few weeks ago, now was a good time to get this sorted out.

But does it mean his place in the USMNT’s Gold Cup squad is in doubt?

Recovering from surgery aside, Yedlin has some competition at right back in the USMNT setup, with new head coach Gregg Berhalter trying out Tyler Adams in that role in recent games.

This is a big summer for Yedlin to establish himself as a veteran leader of the USMNT and he will be hoping he is fully fit for the Gold Cup which starts on June 18.

Watch Live: Newcastle v. Liverpool

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Newcastle United host Liverpool on Saturday at St James’ Park (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as a pivotal game in the Premier League title race takes center stage.

On paper, Liverpool should win this easily but Jurgen Klopp‘s side know that anything other than a win will likely dash their title hopes heading into the final week of the season.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has led his Newcastle side up the table in recent weeks after battling relegation, and they will be playing with plenty of confidence as they aim to finish the season on a high.

After their defeat at Barcelona in midweek, Liverpool know their only realistic chance of winning a trophy relies on them winning at Newcastle to set up a tense final day of the Premier League season.

In team news Newcastle have Jamaal Lascelles and Ki Sung-Yueng back in the starting lineup.

Liverpool are without Roberto Firmino who misses out through injury as Daniel Sturridge starts up top, while Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dejan Lovren all come in to the starting lineup.


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Analyzing the relegation situation: One from six to go down

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Huddersfield Town and Fulham have already been relegated from the Premier League, but there is still an almighty scrap for at least six teams to stay out of the bottom three.

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Cardiff City is currently five points from safety with six games to go, so Neil Warnock‘s side are the favorites for the drop, but with some winnable games coming up in their run-in, is feels like the Bluebirds have another few surprise results up their sleeve.

[ PST Roundtable: Predicting the run-in

Below we take a look at the relegation situation, with Cardiff, Southampton, Brighton, Newcastle, Burnley and Bournemouth still involved in the scrap.


Cardiff City
Current position, points: 18th and 28 points
Fixtures remaining: 6 games – Burnley (A), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Fulham (A), Crystal Palace (H), Man United (A)
How many points needed: 12 points
Key in the run-in: Warnock’s men need to keep games tight and hope to nick points from set-piece situations. They must beat Burnley, Fulham and Brighton to have any chance of survival.


Southampton
Current position: 17th and 33 points
Fixtures remaining: 6 games – Wolves (H), Newcastle (A), Watford (A), Bournemouth (H), West Ham (A), Huddersfield (H)
How many points needed: 7 points
Key in the run-in: Saints have a pretty favorable run of games, on paper, with home matches against Bournemouth and Huddersfield must wins. The trip to Newcastle will likely determine if they’re going to continue their push away from the bottom three under Ralph Hasenhuttl, with Danny Ings‘ fitness key.


Brighton & Hove Albion
Current position: 16th and 33 points
Fixtures remaining: 7 games – Bournemouth (H), Cardiff (H), Wolves (A), Tottenham (A), Newcastle (H), Arsenal (A), Man City (H)
How many points needed: 7 points
Key in the run-in: Four home games left for Brighton, but they face Arsenal, Spurs and Man City, so the game against Cardiff looks massive in their battle against relegation. Not an easy schedule, and they need to get service to Glenn Murray if they’re going to pull clear.


Newcastle United
Current position: 15th and 35 points
Fixtures remaining: 5 games – Leicester (A), Southampton (H), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Fulham (A)
How many points needed: 5 points
Key in the run-in: This should be pretty straightforward for Rafael Benitez’s side. If they grab a win against Southampton or Brighton, they are pretty much safe. Some defensive injuries have left them short in recent weeks, but they will have enough to get them over the line.


Burnley
Current position: 14th and 36 points
Fixtures remaining: 5 games – Cardiff (H), Chelsea (A), Man City (H), Everton (A), Arsenal (H)
How many points needed: 4 points
Key in the run-in: What a few weeks for Burnley, as Sean Dyche‘s men may already be safe. That said, the Clarets will want one more win to make sure and if they don’t beat Cardiff it is tough to see where that will come from. Chelsea, Man City, Everton and Arsenal is a daunting last four games, but Burnley have put themselves in a great position.


Bournemouth
Current position: 13th and 38 points
Fixtures remaining: 5 games – Brighton (A), Fulham (H), Southampton (A), Tottenham (H), Crystal Palace (A)
How many points needed: 2 points
Key in the run-in: Eddie Howe‘s side have been in terrible form during the second half of the season, but their remaining games aren’t too tough. A win against Brighton or Fulham should do the trick but if they don’t, and the teams below them pick up a few wins in the next couple of weeks, all of a sudden Bournemouth will be looking over their shoulders a little.

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Newcastle

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Arsenal host Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), with the Gunners able to move up to third place in the Premier League table.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Unai Emery‘s men are in a very strong position in terms of their remaining schedule, and they will be aiming for a tenth-straight home win in the Premier League. As for Newcastle, they have been in good form with just one defeat from six and Rafael Benitez’s men are now aiming for a top 10 finish.

In team news Arsenal have Aaron Ramsey as skipper, while Matteo Guendouzi starts with him in midfield with Granit Xhaka out. Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi start in support of Alexandre Lacazette with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Shkodran Mustafi comes in for Laurent Koscielny.

Newcastle make one change from the team which drew at Bournemouth before the international break, as Jamel Lascelles comes in for Federico Fernandez as the Magpies skipper returns from injury.


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