Ed Woodward believes this summer is an “important opportunity” for Manchester United to build a squad finally capable of challenging for Premier League and Champions League glory.
While the Europa League and FA Cup still provide a shot at silverware, this is shaping up to be another disappointing season for the 20-time league champions.
United languish eighth in the Premier League, with fewer than half the points of table-topping Liverpool, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side face a battle to even seal Champions League qualification.
The January acquisition of Bruno Fernandes has been a welcome injection of quality at Old Trafford, but under-fire executive vice-chairman Woodward accepts there is plenty of work to do.
“The signing of Bruno Fernandes and return of key players from injury will be a boost to Ole and the squad as we head into the second half of the season,” Woodward said in introductory remarks made at a recent fans’ forum.
“We remain in contention in the Europa League and the FA Cup, as well as for Champions League qualification, so there is still lots to play for.
“However, as a club and a board, we do recognise that we are not yet where we want to be.
“It is the overwhelming priority of everyone at the club to get us back to regularly challenging for Premier League and Champions League titles.
“Although progress may not always be smooth, everyone across the club is focused and committed on playing their part in helping achieve those aims.”
Woodward highlighted the significant work and investment made in the academy, while the United chief said he was pleased with progress being made in ensuring they have the right players, infrastructure and culture to sustain long-term success.
It is the overwhelming priority of everyone at the club to get us back to regularly challenging for Premier League and Champions League titles.Ed Woodward
“Similarly, there has been extensive work on our recruitment process, with considerable investment in scouting, data and analytics,” Woodward, whose house was attacked by some fans just days before the comments, continued.
“The recruitment department is working to a clear plan and philosophy, along with Ole and his coaching staff.
“Our focus is on bringing in a combination of experience and the best young players with potential to develop further, fusing graduates from our academy with high-quality acquisitions.
“Our recruitment process focuses on analysis and selection of players over the course of a season, with a view to the following summer transfer window.
As part of the rebuild we see this coming summer as an important opportunity.
“We had consistently taken the view that – because January is not an optimal time in terms of availability of players – we would only buy in January if players we had already targeted for the summer became available and we were pleased that this strategy played out with the signing of Bruno Fernandes.
“Bruno Fernandes and the players we brought (in) last summer are evidence that our process is the right one.
“There has been no shortage of investment in players over the past few years, with over £200million spent since Ole became manager.
“Our aim is to ensure that we continue to achieve consistency in quality of recruitment.
“Off the pitch, it is important to note that the commercial elements of the club are geared to ensuring we have a self-sustaining model which supports investment in the playing side.”