Solskjaer needs 'patience' at Utd – Woodward


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Ed Woodward has backed Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to return success to Old Trafford and called for “patience” after a disappointing start to the season.

United are eighth in the Premier League table having lost 10 of their last 19 games in all competitions dating back to last season.

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The latest set-back was the dismal 2-0 defeat at West Ham on Sunday but Woodward, speaking as United announced their latest financial results, has backed the Norwegian, who was handed a three-year contract in March.

“We and our growing global fanbase demand success,” Woodward said. “Success means winning trophies.

“That target and that standard has never changed for Manchester United. The progress we have made on the business side underpins the continued investment in the football side. “Much of the progress made around that investment, in the academy, the recruitment department and the training facilities is behind the scenes and therefore not immediately apparent to those on the outside looking in.

“We’ve expanded our recruitment department in recent years to increase its efficiency and productivity. Many of the senior staff in these roles have been at the club for over 10 years. Recruitment recommendations and decisions are made by this department, the manager and his team.

“These investments, together with the commitment we made to Ole and his coaching staff in March has given us the building blocks for success. While we are confident this investment will deliver results, it is important we are patient while Ole and his team build for the future.

“We will continue to focus on the long-term strategy and won’t be influenced by short-term distractions.”

Solskjaer has faced criticism for his handling of the summer transfer window which saw Ander Herrera, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leave with no replacements coming in to strengthen the midfield or striking department.

Woodward, though, moved to defend the recruitment policy while pointing to the emergence of young players like 17-year-old Mason Greenwood as the benefit of working with a slimmed down squad.

“We were able to approach the window in a focused and disciplined way,” Woodward said. “Dan James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire joined a strong squad that also saw renewed contracts executed on a number of key players including Marcus Rashford, David de Gea and Victor Lindelof.

“We are optimistic for the future. The sale and loaning of players this summer has allowed the manager to involve more of our young players and provide a firm foundation and culture ready for building the next trophy-winning squad.”

On Tuesday, United announced annual revenue of £627 million and profit of £50m in 2019. The latest results also showed United paid Jose Mourinho and his staff £19.6m in compensation when he was sacked in December.

Wages were £332.3m, up £36.3m over the prior year, because of “investment in the first team playing squad.”

Meanwhile, Paul Pogba is expected to feature against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. United are also hopeful that both Anthony Martial and Greenwood will be fit to return.

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