Perhaps the only thing United fans are united in right now is that Ed Woodward needs to go. Chants of ‘Ed Woodward is going to die’ at Old Trafford in the past couple of games have been louder than the famous ‘Twenty times’ chant at times.
Most of his criticism come from a player-recruitment point of view but has it really all been that bad since he took over from David Gill in 2013? We take a look at his first 3 years in charge.
Marouane Fellaini (Everton, £27.5m)
The first of many signings under Woodward was Fellaini in 2013. United infamously turned down the chance to sign the midfielder for £18 million that same summer, only to sign him on deadline day for £27.5 million after his release clause had expired.
Fellaini was useful for Manchester United under both Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. He scored some vital goals for the club including an FA Cup semi-final goal against Everton, that decisive goal against Young Boys in the Champions League, a good header against Manchester City and also assisted Wayne Rooney’s winner at Anfield in 2017. Not a spectacular signing but still did well.
Juan Mata (Chelsea, £37.1m)
Wayne Rooney had made his mind up in the summer of 2013 – he wanted to leave Manchester United. He was the hottest English property at the time and Chelsea publicly made their interest known. José Mourinho sounded him out but ultimately Rooney ended up staying. However, this whole saga makes the transfer of Juan Mata to Manchester United just a bit more impressive.
Mata had fallen out with Mourinho at Chelsea and needed to leave, the Blues wanted Rooney so a January swap seemed reasonable, at least for the neutrals. But Woodward did not once negotiate or meet with Chelsea throughout this entire deal in order to avoid any type of approach for Wayne Rooney. Everything was done through agents and eventually the deal was confirmed.
Although Mata never really fully established himself as Manchester United’s main man, he has been a great little player for United and was definitely a breath of fresh air at the time of his arrival.
Daley Blind (Ajax, £14.7m)
Out goes David Moyes and in comes Louis van Gaal and Daley Blind. United signed him from Ajax in 2014 and although he returned to his boyhood club 4 years later, he was an underrated player at United.
Simple, yes, but also elegant. Everything was done with a lot of finesse and his versatility wasn’t exactly a downside.
Ander Herrera (Athletic Club, £30.6m)
The little Spaniard had a really tough time breaking into the starting eleven under Louis van Gaal’s first season. It seemed like no matter what he did, it was always Carrick, Blind & Fellaini who got the nod over the former Zaragoza & Athletic Club midfielder.
But once he did, he never looked back. He instantly became a fan-favourite at Old Trafford and I doubt you’ll find many who were happy to see the back of him. His passion and desire typifies what United are missing right now pretty well.
Luke Shaw (Southampton, £31.6m)
This one is a bit of a sad one. So promising, Luke Shaw became the most expensive teenager ever after joining United. He had excelled at Southampton and despite heavy links to Chelsea, United were able to convince him to join. His first season was plagued by injuries and Louis van Gaal’s reluctance to play him due to being overweight.
He started his second season very well and was linking up neatly with Memphis Depay on the left flank but that leg-break at PSV is more or less what killed his United career. He’s never been the same since.
Ángel di Maria (Real Madrid, £59.7m)
It started so well with Di Maria. He took the Premier League by storm with goals against QPR, Everton and Leicester in his first 4 games.
An unfortunate hamstring injury at home to Hull in November of 2014 cut his calendar year short and off-pitch troubles meant that his first and only season ended in disappointment. He then went on strike in order to force a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Radamel Falcao (Monaco, loan, £6.4m)
If you think back, it is rare that so many fans of one club want one player to succeed just as much as the Old Trafford faithful wanted Falcao to. Despite coming in on loan, he made it clear at his first press conference that he intended to stay for many years but sadly, it was all very poor.
Marcos Rojo (Sporting CP, £16.7m)
It feels like Marcos Rojo would fall into both of these categories pretty well. He has never really shown that he’s a good enough defender but yet somehow, he has made it work. So many injuries makes it hard to consider him a hit though.
Victor Valdes (Free transfer)
The less said the better.
Sergio Romero (Sampdoria, free transfer)
In the midst of all the drama surrounding David de Gea’s supposed move to Real Madrid, Sergio Romero was brought in and also started the first four games. De Gea stayed, signed a new contract and was put back in goal but Romero has done exceptionally well whenever called upon at United.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, £7.5m)
Reunited with his old pal Louis van Gaal, Fußballgott Basti left his beloved Bayern Munich and although his first season wasn’t the worst, what followed under José Mourinho was horrible. It was a real shame to witness.
Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton, £29.5m)
Not a word of this transfer was spoken until the club actually announced it and perhaps they shouldn’t have announced it all. Schneiderlin was very poor and the famous ‘Schmidfield’ didn’t really pan out.
Matteo Darmian (Torino, £15m)
Darmian, like so many others, started brilliantly at United. Defensively, he was flawless at the beginning and although his attacking side left a lot to be desired, it was accepted that he would get better. He didn’t and his defending got worse. Became the forgotten man at United for nearly 3 years.
Memphis Depay (PSV, £28m)
He announced himself at Old Trafford by scoring two goals and assisting another in the 3-1 play-off win against Club Brugge and it was his best moment in a United shirt. Just a bit too inconsistent throughout and José Mourinho swiftly showed him the door.
Anthony Martial (Monaco, £36m)
‘£36 million down the drain’ and ‘What a waste of money’ were the headlines on the eve of the summer transfer deadline day. United had brought in Anthony Martial, which many thought was a panic-buy due to not getting their main targets. The hefty price-tag was alarming but he is probably the best signing of the post-Ferguson era.
Eric Bailly (Villareal, £30m)
United looked to have found a real gem in Eric Bailly upon his arrival but injuries have seriously halted his Old Trafford career. It now looks like it could be coming to an end.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG, free transfer)
Manchester United’s Swedish hero, on a free from PSG. 27 goals in three quarters of a season where he also went through a 10-game goal-drought. He did exceptionally well considering he joined at 35. Proved all of the critics wrong.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund, £35m)
Another one who failed to make an impression right away but slowly played himself into contention. It looked like the tide was turning for Mkhitaryan in 2017 but just 18 months into his United career, he was shipped off to Arsenal.
Paul Pogba (Juventus, £89m)
United shelved out a world-record fee for returning Paul Pogba and the expectations were huge. His first season was underwhelming but so were United (despite winning 2 trophies). He started the second season well but faded. His first half of the third season was pretty much a write-off but those first three months under Solskjær is the best football United have seen from Pogba and it is unlikely we’ll see it again.
Although Pogba has not flopped at United, he has not met expectations.
Verdict: JURY STILL OUT
Romelu Lukaku (Everton, £75m)
44 goals in 2 seasons isn’t bad for someone who was branded useless by virtually everyone in the game. But he was signed to be United’s main man for years to come and his departure after 2 years leaves a bad taste.
Victor Lindelöf (Benfica, £30m)
Had a horrible first season where it looked like there was no turning back but a much improved 2018/19 season meant he is now first choice.
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea, £37m)
Fresh off winning the league with Chelsea, United signed one of Mourinho’s favourites. And despite the colossal first season at United, Matic has not accomplished what he would’ve wished for at United.
A good professional indeed, but one whose time is up earlier than once thought.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal, swap-deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan)
Repeat Valdes explanation. But twice.
Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk, £50m)
Like Lindelöf, Fred’s first season at United was horrible. It was at times hard to watch – no matter how much you tried, you’d find it difficult to find a decent footballer inside that little body.
He’s proven a lot of people wrong in his second season, though. Started off on the bench but injuries meant that he got his chance. He took it and is certain in United’s starting eleven, even with a full squad.
Diogo Dalot (Porto, £18m)
A lot of injuries but has done well when called upon. Still yet to make a real impression.
Verdict: JURY STILL OUT
Lee Grant (Stoke, £1.4m)
Signed as a third-choice goalkeeper and has only played one game. Seems unfair to rank him.
Daniel James (Swansea, £15m)
The speedy winger seems a steal for just 15 million. Although his electric start faded a little bit, the best is yet to come from the Welshman.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace, £50m)
Scarily, AW-B ticks a lot of the same boxes Matteo Darmian did in his first season. Brilliant defensively, worse offensively. Wan-Bissaka, however, has proved to be a much, much better player and should not be compared to Darmian.
He’s been one of United’s best players so far this season and is certain to be in the team for many years.
Harry Maguire (Leicester, £85m)
World’s most expensive defender and now the Manchester United captain. It is unfair to judge him this soon so we’ll leave this one.
Verdict: JURY STILL OUT