Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has once again given his full backing to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and said the club’s long-term plans are with the Norwegian in mind.
Solskjaer is approaching the two-year anniversary of his appointment as United boss, initially on a caretaker basis, but his position has regularly been called into question during that time.
He came under particular scrutiny following defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir in quick succession last month, but Woodward stated at the time United remain “absolutely committed” to the former striker.
Woodward remains pleased with the Red Devils’ progress under Solskjaer but acknowledged there is room for improvement, with United ninth in the Premier League and not yet assured of a spot in the Champions League last 16 heading into the final matchday in Group H.
Speaking at a virtual fans’ forum at the end of November, the minutes for which were published on Thursday, Woodward said: “What happens on the field is clearly our top priority.
“While it’s not the same without fans in the stadium, we’ve seen lots of highs since our last meeting in April.
“We had a 14-game unbeaten run to finish third in last season’s Premier League run and great wins against PSG and RB Leipzig on our return to the Champions League this season.
“Of course, we recognise there’s more hard work ahead to achieve the consistency needed to win trophies.
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“But we see positive signs on the pitch and the training ground that reinforce our belief in the progress being made by Ole, his coaching team and the players.”
United missed out on rumoured top target and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho during the close season but still strengthened their squad with the signings of Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and free agent Edinson Cavani.
The Red Devils also brought in Bruno Fernandes last January, the Portugal playmaker proving to be a massive hit since arriving for a rumoured upfront fee of £47million.
However, the January window is notorious for being difficult to negotiate with other clubs and Woodward suggested United are not in the market for any new players next month.
“I told this forum back in April that we remained committed to strengthening the squad, while being disciplined in our spending during the pandemic,” he said.
“I believe we’ve delivered on that, with the additions we made during the summer taking our total net spending to over €200m since the summer of 2019 – more than any other major European club over that period.
“We will continue to support Ole with a planned, long-term approach to recruitment, focused on the summer windows.”
Woodward, a board member of the European Club Association, also distanced United from rumours they are interested in joining a breakaway league consisting of Europe’s biggest clubs.
“Most of my time in this regard is focused, through the ECA and the UCCSA [a joint-venture between the ECA and UEFA], on the strengthening of existing UEFA club competitions,” he said.
“The dialogue focuses on them continuing to be predominantly mid-week games having little or no impact on the Premier League.
“We believe that any changes to European competition post-2024 must be complementary to thriving domestic leagues. Other domestic leagues feel the same way, reflected in conversation with our counterparts in other clubs and countries.
“What I can assure you of is that we will keep match-going fans firmly in the centre of thoughts, whether with the Premier League, ECA or UEFA, and across our decision-making processes overall.
“The past eight months has reminded us all of just how crucial you are to the fabric of the game. This game without fans is nothing.”