Ed Woodward failed with his Man Utd transfer and "clear vision" promise

"We have a clear vision in terms of football philosophy and recruitment.”

It’s almost, exactly one year to the day, since Manchester United ’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward promised that the club had a crystal clear strategy in the upcoming window.

At the time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was 12-months into his spell at Old Trafford and had helped to turn the tide of negativity at the club.

The Norwegian was backed in the summer of 2019, with Daniel James, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka signing for more than £100million.

It appeared that United had pinned their hopes to signing young British players, who could flourish under Solskjaer at Old Trafford.

"The significant investments that we have made in recent years in areas such as transfers, recruitment infrastructure, analytics and our academy are already beginning to bear fruit,” Woodward added.

"Our ultimate goal is to win trophies, playing fast, fluid, attacking football with a team that fuses graduates from our academy along with world-class acquisitions.

“We know this will not be achieved overnight, however we have made investments across the club that we believe have set us on the right path.”

However, less than two months after Woodward promised a “clear vision”, the plans appeared to become a lot more muddled.

United spent much of the January window negotiating with Sporting over the sale of Bruno Fernandes.

Woodward initially refused to pay the fee the Portuguese giants had demanded, before finally getting a deal done on January 29.

Elsewhere however, Solskjaer had made it clear that he needed another striker to add to his options going forward.

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and the emergence of Mason Greenwood, meant United almost had a strike-force capable of winning trophies as Woodward had promised.

But as the hours ticked away on deadline day, a host of names were linked. Josh King from Bournemouth was touted, before eventually forgotten man Odion Ighalo arrived from Shanghai Shenhua.

He was hardly the sort of high-profile signing that was needed to bring United back to the pinnacle of English football and has never really had a massive impact on the first-team.

The coronavirus suspension then gave Woodward almost six months to devise a coherent plan for this summer’s purchases.

However, their window was punctuated by near-misses and disappointments. Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Jadon Sancho were all heavily linked with moves, before ultimately sticking with their respective clubs.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have missed out on Jadon Sancho in the summer, but he still made some big moves in the transfer market with Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani all arriving.

But their start to the season has been a mixed bag, with a home defeat to Crystal Palace and a 6-1 thrashing by Spurs at one end of the scale, and a tremendous 2-1 win over PSG in Paris at the other.

The question now is whether they can find the right balance?

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Sancho in particular was a player that Solskjaer had prioritised in the window, desperate to add attacking talents to the right-side of his attacking trio.

Borussia Dortmund set a price and despite months of painfully frustrating negotiations they failed to hit it.

It was then a case of another mad scramble in the final hours of the window. Edinson Cavani was eventually the man signed,

Despite his reputation, he is some distance away from the type of player United had previously been targeting under Solskjaer.

It remains to be seen, whether October’s trolley dash will have a positive impact, but that clear vision is now looking decidedly muddied.

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