Manchester United CEO dispels 'insulting myth' that he picks players

Man United ready to splash the cash in January (1:22)

Gab Marcotti identifies areas of Manchester United's squad that need strengthening in January. (1:22)

Ed Woodward has hit back at criticism of his Manchester United leadership by branding suggestions he picks which players to buy as "a myth" and "insulting."

Woodward has overseen a trying spell since taking over for chief executive David Gill in 2013, during which time United have slipped from Premier League champions to regularly missing out on a place in the Champions League.

Much of the fans' fury has been directed at the owners, the Glazer family, and the board -- particularly after a dismal start to the season that has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team collect just nine points from eight games and sit two points above the relegation places in 12th.

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Some supporters have pointed the finger at Woodward for the club's underwhelming recruitment record since Sir Alex Ferguson retired six years ago, but United's executive vice-chairman has rejected the suggestion he handpicks players to sign.

"There is a myth that we have non-football people making football decisions, and I think it's insulting to the brilliant people who work on the football side in this club," said Woodward.

"Many of the senior staff on the football side of the club have been in their roles for over 10 years. Some of our scouts have worked with us for more than 25 years.

"We've expanded our recruitment department in recent years and we believe this now runs in an efficient and productive way.

"Player recommendations and decisions are worked on by this department and by the first team manager and his staff, not by senior management."

Woodward has also addressed concerns that the commercial side of the club -- which has remained healthy despite a lack of success on the pitch -- takes priority at Old Trafford over investment in the playing squad.

"Our commercial business allows us to reinvest in the football side," he said. "It's how these two interact with each other at Manchester United that results in us having a competitive advantage in this area.

"What's important is the commercial side is never allowed to take priority over the football side."

The impact of summer signings Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James -- identified by a revamped recruitment department -- has been a bright spot during United's miserable start to the season that could reach new depths on Sunday if Liverpool win at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer has managed just five wins from 21 games since being appointed permanent manager in March, and despite mounting pressure after defeat to Newcastle, Woodward insists the Norwegian is still the right man for the job.

"Ole's vision maps exactly to the core three football objectives we have," said Woodward.

"We must win trophies, we must play attacking football, and we must give youth its chance.

"The middle section of last season, after Ole's arrival, feels most relevant to what we want to achieve and where we want to be.

"We saw a team playing fast, fluid football, with a clear representation of the style and philosophy the manager wants."

While new signings Maguire, Wan-Bissaka and James have been early successes, Solskjaer has been left with a squad short in midfield and up front after the summer departures of Ander Herrera, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

Lukaku and Sanchez were allowed to leave late in the window with no prospect of bringing in a replacement, but Woodward has hinted the decision was made for the good of the group.

"Ole has instilled the discipline back into an environment where we may have lacked it in recent years," said Woodward.

"He is building a squad that respects the club's history, in which players work hard and respect their teammates. No one is bigger than the club."

Meanwhile, Brandon Williams has signed a new contract at Old Trafford. The 19-year-old left-back, who made his first senior start against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League, has penned a deal until at least 2022.