Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho given vote of confidence by Ed Woodward
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has backed Jose Mourinho despite the club's indifferent start to the season.
Mourinho has overseen a disappointing 2018-19 campaign so far, with United eight points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool following two defeats and a draw in the opening six matches.
The poor run of form has come following a difficult transfer window in which Mourinho repeatedly voiced his desire for more backing. Privately, the club have given their support to the Portuguese coach and while revealing fourth quarter financial results, Woodward said he is also behind the manager.
"Everyone at the club is working tirelessly to add to Manchester United's 66 and Jose's 25 trophies," Woodward said, after United announced a profit of £44.1 million for the financial year on record revenue of £590m.
"That is what our passionate fans and our history demands. It's easy to get caught up in the game-by-game fluctuations of our season but I would like to take this opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
"We are the biggest sports team in the world as measured by number of fans. We know that position is one that requires continued investment to maintain. Our board, our investors and everyone at the club are aligned with the fans about what we need to do on the pitch, and that is to win trophies. It is one of the reasons we hired Jose Mourinho and we have already won three with him."
Woodward has also come under fire after overseeing a summer transfer window during which United spent £68m to sign Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant. It prompted a group of supporters to pay for a protest banner to be flown over Turf Moor during the 2-0 win over Burnley on Sept. 2 that read: "Ed Woodward - A specialist in failure."
Woodward admitted United are finding the transfer market "increasingly competitive" but insisted he will continue to sign the world's best players -- two years after breaking the world record to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford from Juventus for £89.3m.
"We are committed to our philosophy of blending top academy graduates with world class players," Woodward said.
"We are proud that, once again, last season we had more academy graduate minutes on the pitch than any other Premier League club. Our increased revenue expectation for the year demonstrates our continued strong long-term financial performance which underpins everything we do and allows us to compete for top talent in an increasingly competitive transfer market."
Former United defender Gary Neville hit out at Woodward for not backing Mourinho in the summer, claiming Woodward should have "shown faith" in his manager and signed a centre-back, particularly after rewarding him with a new contract in January.
"If Ed Woodward was going to doubt Jose Mourinho, the time to doubt him was at the point whereby he should have said I'm not giving you a new contract last January," Neville said on Sky Sports. "The minute he gave him a contract extension -- which some may say was unnecessary halfway through a season -- believing in the manager and showing the faith, he had to then buy him the centre-backs.
"He had to get [Harry] Maguire and [Toby] Alderweireld. Don't get me wrong, the club have supported Jose Mourinho and given him a lot of money, but you cannot go half-hearted."
Woodward was joined on the 25-minute call by group managing director Richard Arnold and two other senior executives to run through everything from new sponsorship deals -- seven in total -- to social media footprint (United have more followers on Facebook than the NBA, the NFL, NHL and MLB combined).
There was one question from the listening investors about whether the new sleeve sponsorship deal with Kohler would open up opportunities to attract sponsors for different parts of the shirt, but Premier League clubs are bound by Premier League, Football Association and UEFA rules on sponsors on shirts.