EPL

Woodward promises to continue Man Utd rebuild with Solskjaer at the helm

By Sports Desk February 25, 2020

Manchester United's squad rebuild will continue with an emphasis on academy products and "world-class recruits", and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the wheel, according to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

United announced their second quarter fiscal results for 2020 on Tuesday, with much of the focus on a 17 per cent fall in operating profits to £36.5million, a seven per cent increase in commercial revenues and the club's net debt inflating by 23 per cent.

But Woodward, speaking on a conference call with investors, highlighted the club's commitment to replenishing the squad.

United added Bruno Fernandes to the team in January, with the Portugal international making a solid early impact, and Woodward outlined the club's plans to continue adding ready-made "world-class" players and highly rated academy products to Solskjaer's squad.

In a statement to investors, Woodward said: "Now, I want to provide an overview of progress towards our number one priority - winning trophies with a team playing entertaining, attacking football.

"Since our last call in November we have progressed to the knockout stages of the Europa League; we are through to the fifth round in the FA Cup, and we remain in the mix to qualify for the Champions League.

"This season is one of rebuild, with many changes to the squad - in terms of players who have left or gone out on loan; new players who we have brought into the club; and academy graduates that we have brought through to the first team. This process will continue as we implement our plan and our footballing vision under Ole and his coaching staff.

"Despite being linked in the media to 111 players in January, our acquisition of just one of them - Bruno Fernandes - is an important step in that direction, demonstrating our commitment to adding experienced, world-class recruits to the exciting crop of academy graduates that are at the heart of this developing team. We will take the same planned, disciplined, approach this coming summer.

"In addition to the first team signings, somewhat under the radar, we have also made a number of exciting youth acquisitions in the past year, reflecting our commitment to bringing the best talent into our academy.

"So far our academy graduates have contributed over a third of first team playing minutes this season and over half of our goals, emphasising our academy's status as one of the most productive in elite-level European football.

"This is an important competitive advantage for us and represents an excellent return on the fourfold increase in investment that we have made in the academy over recent years."

Fittingly, shortly before Woodward's call, United announced new contracts for Under-23 goalkeeper Paul Woolston and 18-year-old full-back Ethan Laird, the latter of whom featured for the first-team in two Europa League group matches earlier this season.

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