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The inside story of Woodward’s United reign

Ed Woodward strode across the rickety wooden panels of the mixed zone at the Jan Breydel Stadion. Manchester United had just vanquished Club Brugge 7-1 on aggregate to qualify for the Champions League and Woodward, wrapped in a raincoat over his Paul Smith club suit, offered two thumbs up to the throng of reporters.

It was 2015 and United were back on the continent after a season devoid of European football. United had invested impressively and Woodward was optimistic in what would be his last televised sit down with MUTV (“When people see Schweinsteiger on the teamsheet, that’s gonna send some shivers down the spine.”) Four months later, United were still in Europe – the Europa League.

It was on Woodward’s watch United became a yo-yo club; going up into the Champions League and then down into the dispiriting Europa League. The season they returned to the Champions League, United finished behind PSV Eindhoven and Wolfsburg in the group stage and fell into the Europa abyss.

United were relegated to the Europa League again last season and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was rewarded for the ‘achievement’ of reaching a second-rate final with a three-year contract. He was the third United manager to be dismissed within a year of scrawling his name on a contract.

Read the full feature here.

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