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Darren Lewis: A summer of two halves for Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward

20 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Darren Lewis: A summer of two halves for Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward

After missing out on Pedro, the Daily Mirror sports writer says Woodward has less than two weeks to get himself out of the transfer doghouse

Awkward for Manchester United and for Ed Woodward.

Considering the amount of times the Reds’ chief executive has boasted about the cash at the club’s disposal it is remarkable that Chelsea could steal Pedro because United wouldn’t show Barcelona the money.

Last month Woodward was the toast of the red half of Manchester after bringing in the players sought by boss Louis van Gaal ahead of their summer tour.

Over a three-day period in came Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin and superstar Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Some killjoys – you know who you are – argued with some justification that Woodward was simply doing his job.

But there was still a lot to like about the way that he moved so quickly on the back of the capture of Memphis Depay earlier in June.

Then came the Sergio Ramos affair.

Right from the start, seasoned pros called that one for what it was: The Real Madrid defender was after a bumper new contract at the Bernabeu and was using United to get it.

Yet Woodward wasted time and energy on the Spanish superstar, trying to include him as part of the negotiations for goalkeeper David de Gea.

Surprise, surprise, Ramos has since signed a new deal and even had the temerity to claim that moving elsewhere would have been a “waste of time”.

Now this.

The most galling aspect of the Pedro debacle is that at £22million he isn’t even that expensive. Not when you consider some of the sums being bandied about during this transfer window.

Pedro was desperate to come. He wants to play regularly. He won’t at Barca but he turned down interest from Manchester City in order to do so at United.

And yet Woodward tried to play hardball.

Chelsea (presumably laughing as they did it) nipped in to take advantage.

The champions practically had the forward in London before United had put out their unconvincing topspin claiming they had lost interest anyway.

5/1 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic to join Manchester United this transfer window

Then came, conveniently, the claims that United had made a bid last week for Southampton forward Sadio Mane anyway – claims that simply didn’t stack up.

There is no doubt that they are interested and an offer is probably forthcoming from the Reds this week.

But the bemused Saints maintain that there so far there has no contact whatsoever between the two clubs over Mane.

No bid, no talks, nothing.

In any case, the claims of a move for Mane ran counter to the noises coming out of Old Trafford previously that Louis van Gaal had blocked the deal because he was happy with his options.

And if that was the case then why did Woodward fly to Spain for talks with Barcelona in the first place? Someone was struggling to get their story straight.

After the failed attempts to land the likes of Ander Herrera (first time around), Cesc Fabregas and Gareth Bale, Woodward looked to have turned things around with successful moves for Falcao and Angel Di Maria 12 months ago.

Also with the efficiency with which he operated at the start of this transfer window.

He is back to being in the doghouse, however, after allowing a known target with 15 major trophies to slip through his fingers and join a title rival.

Of course the Reds will have other targets and other problems, not least their search for another top-line striker.

Germany superstar Thomas Muller at Bayern Munich is one that simply won’t go away, even though his club continue contemptuously to wave away United’s interest.

And what is clear is that, despite six points out of six in the Premier League, the Manchester giants a big problem in attack.

In their two games so far they have had one own goal in their favour and a winner from Adnan Januzaj.

Rooney has not scored in serious competition for United since April 4 against Aston Villa.

Memphis Depay put the club in the driving seat in their Champions League play-off at home to Brugge on Wednesday night.

5/2 – Memphis Depay to be Manchester United’s top Premier League goalscorer

But Rooney is out of form – his job is to score goals, not to provide silky touches for team-mates – and United do not have much else in terms of top quality up front.

Javier Hernandez is an impact player, James Wilson needs time and the days of the likes of Ruud van Nistelooy, Robin van Persie in his pomp and Cristiano Ronaldo seem a world away.

It probably won’t matter too much against Newcastle on Saturday. Steve McClaren’s men can’t defend to save their lives and have conceded four goals in their opening two games.

But the final two weeks of the transfer window for United are going to be fascinating.

Woodward was trending on Twitter last month because of a welter of praise for his transfer activity.

This week he has also had his name among the most talked about subjects on the social media site – but for very different reasons.

It will be interesting to see whether he is able to turn things around with reinforcements ahead of the transfer deadline.

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