Solskjaer ready to be involved in talks over Woodward's successor

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ready to be involved in talks over Ed Woodward’s successor as Manchester United boss stresses the importance of finding the right man to ensure their progress under him is not jeopardised

  • Woodward ‘will choose who succeeds him’ before he departs Man United
  • Executive vice-chairman announced he will step down at the end of the year
  • It came amid the furious backlash to the breakaway European Super League 
  • Club want to avoid repeat of turbulent departure of Gill and Ferguson in 2013

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said it’s important Manchester United ’employ the right man’ to replace Ed Woodward as potential disruption at the top of the club threatens to disrupt the progress being made on the pitch.

Woodward will quit as executive vice-chairman at the end of the year in the aftermath of botched attempts to join the European Super League and United want to avoid a repeat of 2013 when David Gill’s departure as chief executive alongside manager Sir Alex Ferguson plunged the club into turmoil.

They haven’t won the Premier League or Champions League since but are set to have their best post-Fergie season with United facing Leeds second in the Premier League, with a Europa League semi-final against Roma next on Thursday.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with co-owners Joel Glazer and Avram Glazer

Ed Woodward will step down from his role as executive vice-chairman at the end of the year

Solskjaer said: ‘We have to deal with Ed’s departure. I’ve not been involved in discussions over a successor but if they ask my opinion, I’ll voice it on what we need. I’m sure the club is capable of moving forward.

‘It’s important we employ the right man. We can’t employ on sentiment but to have Man Utd’s best interests at heart, that’s one of the criteria of course.’

Former United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, currently chief executive at Ajax, would provide a link back to the club’s glory days under Fergie and without Woodward there is the tantalising possibility of Gary Neville or the Class of 92 wielding more influence, though he has also been critical of The Glazers.

Despite fans’ protests, Solskjaer doesn’t seem to think it likely the United owners will want to walk away, making their appointment of a chief executive even more crucial, with internal candidates like Richard Arnold also a possibility.

Woodward took up his role shortly after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013

‘I’m not the one who writes the job description – my job is to take care of results,’ added Solskjaer. ‘But whoever (comes in), I’m hopeful I can have a good working relationship with and I can provide results.

‘I’ve had an open and good relationship with the owners and they’ve been very supportive of me. We have shown that in the players we’ve signed that they’re committed to improving the club.

‘I think the owners of every club that signed up for this proposal have got a job on their hands (to appease fans), of course they have. We’ve had an apology from Joel and I think that’s important.

‘He’s told us how committed he is to helping us going forward. Unity and everyone coming together and working together is the best way forward.’

United’s group managing director Richard Arnold (left) is among the potential candidates

Solskjaer doesn’t think the financial hit of pulling out of the ESL will hurt his transfer ambitions this summer.

United are looking for a top-class winger and a centre-forward and have been linked with a shock return for Cristiano Ronaldo who is unhappy at Juventus. Other names in the frame are Harry Kane, Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho.

‘The market has changed after this year but I’m still very positive and hopeful we can follow through on the plans we’re working on,’ said the Norwegian.

‘I don’t think that will change at all, I think we’ll still have a good opportunity to do what we have planned to do.’

This is United’s first Premier League visit to Elland Road since 2003 when Roy Keane scored the only goal.

Angry United fans stormed their training ground in protest against the Glazer family 

Solskjaer is cheered by a rare gap between games – it’s the first time United have been in England without a midweek fixture since 2019. ‘It’s been fantastic for us,’ said the manager, though training was interrupted on Thursday when fans protesting against the Glazers broke into the complex and spoke to Solskjaer, coach Michael Carrick and midfielder Nemanja Matic.’

Big Six clubs have struggled since the ESL debacle with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool dropping points. Leeds players wore t-shirts proclaiming “Earn the right” before they faced Liverpool at the start of last week but Solskjaer doesn’t think the furore has created more motivation for the Yorkshire team.

‘I think you are underestimating players. They are just as motivated in every game,’ he said.

‘I want my players to be afraid of losing every game. Of course I want them to enjoy the game and work for something but if you ask me the five games that I remember the most, they are the ones we’ve lost.

‘The short answer is: No, I don’t think there is more motivation (from Leeds), I think it’s the same as it should be anyway.’

The supporters – pictured here by the first-team pitch – held banners saying ‘Glazers Out’ 

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