Manchester United “have to win the Premier League”, admits Ed Woodward, with the club’s executive vice-chairman confident they can deliver on expectations despite their recent struggles.
Since securing a 13th crown under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, those at Old Trafford have endured a rather humbling fall from grace.
Proven managers, from David Moyes to Jose Mourinho via Louis van Gaal, have delivered flashes of promise and silverware, but consistency and stability has remained elusive.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who tasted considerable success with the club in his playing days, is currently being charged with the task of delivering a reversal in fortune.
He is considered to be working towards long-term goals, with there no quick fix to be found, and Woodward concedes that everyone involved with the club must deliver on and off the pitch .
“We have to win the Premier League,” he told United We Stand .
“I view the Premier League as the focus, that’s the biggest test, the benchmark. You can roll a dice in the Champions League, you need luck to win that, but we have to win the Premier League.
“We need to do well commercially to do well on the pitch, we also need to spend what we get more consistently than we have been doing, but we’re on much firmer ground with recruitment.
“I understand the scrutiny; it’s part of the job. We have to do everything we possibly can to get back to winning the Premier League. We’re not successful until we do. Second is not success – we have to win the Premier League.
“Despite some of the narrative around the club at the moment, I feel that we are on the right track to get back to that point [winning the league] but we are going to have to be patient.”
Woodward believes United are putting the correct foundations in place – including Solskjaer.
He added on the club’s vision: “Winning; playing attacking football with players that have an ‘x-factor’; and giving youth a chance. Added to that, we want players to come in who respect their team-mates, the club, the history.
“They must understand they are creating a legacy by coming to Manchester United. Nobody is bigger than the club. There should be both a humbleness and an arrogance.
“Ole has brought a lot of the discipline back. Whatever manager we have has to buy into that philosophy and Ole is a walking, talking version of that. Let’s play this out with Ole in terms of the cultural reboot.
“It [appointing Solskjaer permanently] wasn’t pivotal to it [finishing top four] one way or another. I want to take a long-term view — Ole was hired with the long-term view that he will be successful.”
Another piece of the puzzle that United must get right concerns transfer business, with the club also working to a much bigger picture there amid criticism of some dealings in recent years .
“Recruitment isn’t everything, but it’s pretty close,” said Woodward.
“You have to get that right and we haven’t done that consistently enough in the past. I want to try and explain how we have evolved it.
“We have changed the recruitment structure so that it doesn’t look anything like it did a few years ago. We have invested a lot. We’re confident that we have a disciplined process that works.
“That’s partly evidenced by what happened in the summer, but we need to judge over a period of time.”