Louis van Gaal not mentioned as Manchester United publish new financial results
Louis van Gaal's name was conspicuous by its absence as investors and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward sidestepped the subject of the Manchester United manager's position.
United announced their third quarter financial results on Friday which showed they were on course to become the first British club to earn more than half a billion pounds in a single year.
The club announced record revenues for the quarter of £123.4million, up 29.9 per cent on the same quarter last year, with commercial, broadcasting and matchday revenues all increasing.
However, things on the field remain shaky as a topsy-turvy season comes to a close, with United facing an uphill battle to secure Champions League football next season.
A 3-2 loss at West Ham on Tuesday meant Van Gaal's men wasted the chance to go into the season finale against Bournemouth in control of their own destiny. They now require three points at home to the Cherries and to hope that Manchester City lose at Swansea.
It looks a tough ask and, while they have the FA Cup final to look forward to against Crystal Palace on May 21, missing out on the top four will only increase the pressure on Van Gaal, especially with Jose Mourinho edging closer to a return to management.
Speculation that the Dutchman could soon be leaving Old Trafford was fuelled on Friday, when he was not mentioned in the statement from Woodward confirming the third-quarter results or the conference call with investors which followed.
The nine-minute question-and-answer session did not once touch on Van Gaal, nor did executive vice-chairman Woodward mention the United boss during his opening remarks.
"This Premier League season has demonstrated once again why this league is the most compelling competition for sports fans all over the world," Woodward said.
"As we look back on our season, I am delighted by the emergence of our young players.
"In the last two seasons alone, some 15 players from our under-21s squad have appeared 130 times in our first team.
"Marcus Rashford made an immediate impact, scoring goals on his debut in Europe and then two more on his Premier League debut against Arsenal.
"Three of our regular first-team players - Rashford, (Jesse) Lingard, (Cameron) Borthwick-Jackson - are locally-born academy players, who have been with the club since they were eight years old."
Woodward was keen to point to the success of United's young players, saying the new structure of that part of the club "signals significant enhanced investment in the vital areas of our academy and support team".
There was no mention of the man who gave United's young players that chance, but the executive vice-chairman made United's desire to win silverware clear.
When asked about capital expenditure on players, Woodward said: "I think there have been two effects in recent years.
"There has been a continued inflation in player transfers, given the increase in money flowing around the industry.
"But also the second, perhaps greater, effect is the re-tooling that we've been undertaking in terms of the squad.
"I do think that things will stabilise lower in the coming few years, but probably continue to be lumpy thereafter. I can't guide on what that is.
"You know as a club, we will always invest in the squad to the extent that we feel we need to so that we're challenging for titles.
"But I think this sustained level is probably relatively high compared to what is needed."