The Red Devils made quite a few underwhelming acquisitions under the executive’s management over the years.
Manchester United’s Executive Vice-Chairman, Ed Woodward has had a dodgy record with transfers and is soon to resign from his post. Fans have reacted widely to the news of his impending departure from the club. The investment banker overlooked the club’s operations since assuming the post in 2012.
Due to his position, he was also responsible for transfer negotiations and signings. There was a wide assumption that Woodward lacked football acumen and figures like Louis van Gaal reiterated the fact. Moreover, under his tenure as the top executive at MUFC, the club made quite a few signings simply based on the player’s market appeal.
Looking back at the players that the 20-time English champions signed under Ed Wooward, a lot of names come up who were massively disappointing. The club spent huge sums of money under his supervision, which did not bear good results. Therefore, here is a pick of the top five worst transfers by Ed Woodward at Manchester United:
5. Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini signed for Manchester United in 2013 under David Moyes, who took the reins from legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. There was a common belief that Fellaini arrived purely because Moyes wanted him at MUFC. However, later interviews by the Scotsman suggested he wanted players like Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale. But, Woodward refused to sanction the moves due to a lack of faith in the manager.
The Belgian midfielder cost around £30m, but he never seemed like a player that aligned with United’s playing style. Fellaini was slow and could not be used to move the ball quickly up the field. Managers like Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho used the midfielder as a target man in the forward line on occasions. All in all, Fellaini’s recruitment was a start of the run of bad signings.
4. Bastian Schweinsteiger
Manchester United signed Bastian Schweinsteiger in July 2015. Ed Woodward claimed, in a famous interview, that seeing Schweinsteiger’s name on the team-sheet would send ‘shivers down the spine’ of the opposition. However, the fact was, the German’s arrival came too late, despite his incredible pedigree.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner had little to offer at 30-years-old. He was not going to be a long-term signing. He was recruited solely due to the impact his signing would have on the market. As expected, Schweinsteiger barely managed 35 appearances in two years. He signed for FC Dallas in 2017, a Major League Soccer club in the United States. MUFC paid £9m and high wages for the former German international.
3. Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao was a shock Deadline Day transfer that most did not see coming. The striker came on a season-long loan from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco. To be fair to the striker, he was in good form in the French league and was a promising signing. However, a look at the costs of bringing Falcao to the Premier League and his eventual returns make for grim reading.
Reportedly, Woodward sanctioned the loan which cost around £15.8m in loan fees and wages. Injuries affected Falcao’s time at United, where he scored only four goals in 29 games. That means, MUFC paid about £4m per goal for Falcao.
2. Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria joined Manchester United from Real Madrid in August 2014. The Red Devils paid a sum of £67.5m for the Argentine, which was a club-record transfer fee and the highest fee paid by a British club for a player back then. The transfer fell along the lines of moves that had commercial benefits rather than success on the pitch.
Rather than signing players who were passionate to play for the club and fit in with its traditional style of play, Woodward clearly wanted to fill the roster with superstars. Expectedly, the move did not succeed because Di Maria could not settle in England or adapt to the physicality of the Premier League. He barely managed four goals in 32 appearances and left for Paris Saint-Germain after a year.
1. Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez joined Manchester United in January 2018 as part of a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan join Arsenal. Expectations were immense from the Chilean forward, who was one of the best players in the league for the Gunners. Interestingly, the wages involved to bring the player to Old Trafford were too high, which created a massive imbalance in the wage structure and increased the operating costs.
Sanchez received around £450m and it created an internal battle between the rest of the high-profile players, who started demanding a similar amount of money for their services. Evidently, Sanchez was brought in because of the commercial benefits of the move. However, he was perhaps the biggest failure in recent memory. The attacker only scored five goals in two years and left for Inter Milan in August 2019.