Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

Posted: August 13, 2022 in Arsenal, Chelsea, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur
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Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold met at Bristol university. They had a few things in common. They were both from Chelmsford in Essex. They were both destined to enter the banking business and neither of them had the first idea about football. With such credentials it was only natural that they would also both be employed by Manchester United.

After a time Woodward was promoted, well beyond his knowledge, when David Gill decided to leave Manchester United along with Sir Alex Ferguson. Instead of designating the important football roles like handling transfers in and out, negotiating contracts with players and hiring/firing managers, Woodward decided he was the best man for the job and would take care of these things himself.

When, after years of mismanagement and incompetence, Woodward decided to step down, maybe finally realising, although never admitting, that the job was not only too big for him but, for the vast majority of the time, he didn’t have a clue what he was doing, he was replaced by his understudy, mate and clone Richard Arnold.

Arnold was slightly more clever than Woodward in that he realised, that as far as football matters went, he was equally as incompetent as his predecessor. So what did he do? He did what all good managers do, he designated the incompetence to others!

He put John Murtough in place as Director of Football. Murtough had previously held posts at Fulham, Coventry, Everton and United women’s team although none of those roles gave him any experience negotiating high end transfers with Europe’s top clubs.

He promoted Darren Fletcher from something to something else, nobody is quite sure what. One minute he was said to be Technical Director, then he was seen in a tracksuit with the coaches and next he was scouting players at a Championship match!

This whole current transfer window is a perfect example of how United regularly get important decisions wrong, particularly in staff recruitment. The Frenkie de Jong saga is a case in point. Instead of leaving his minions to fail to get this transfer across the line, Arnold decided he had to get involved, despite previously telling fans that lessons had been learned from the Woodward era. The result, at present, is that de Jong’s first choice is to stay at Barcelona, his second is to go to Chelsea and United are now third in the queue!

As far as other players go, while City and Liverpool snap up the best young strikers in Europe in Erling Haaland and Darwin Núñez, United have made a bid for a 33 year-old Marko Arnautović and have been offered Álvaro Morata! How the mighty have fallen!

Heading towards the end of the transfer window and United still don’t have a striker, a holding midfielder or a right wingback, the three positions identified as priorities before the window even opened!

Of course the real problem at United is the owners who appointed Woodward, (reward for his part in them taking over the club), then allowed him to make a mess of almost everything he touched for the next nine years and then, we assume, appoint his own successor.

If Arnold is to avoid becoming the hated figure Woodward became, then he needs to get some experienced football people in the top jobs who will actually get things done but, as Arnold himself is clueless regarding the game, that is unlikely. The only real hope for United is that the losses become too great for the parasitic Glazers and they decide to do a favour for millions of supporters and sell the club.


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