Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has promised to spend big again this summer in an attempt to keep trying to improve Manchester United’s squad, although has said this summer’s transfer window will not see the same “churn” of players.
United have big last summer bringing in Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly and these signings led to a 14.2% rise in the wage bill over the same quarter year on year, as shown in United’s financial results for the period ending 31 December 2016, and costs could increase further if Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann arrive in the summer.
Woodward promised on Thursday to again back José Mourinho in the transfer market but told investors that recruitment will be more steady than in recent years.
“Are we happy with the roster at this point? Yes, I think there’s a happiness from the manager at this point, as you can tell in all his recent interviews in terms of where we are as a squad,” he said.
“I think there’s always going to be continual improvement. I think even if you win everything you still want to improve the squad – that’s the nature of the dynamic industry that we’re in. But I think we aren’t necessarily in a position where we have to churn a large number of players.
“I think I’ve guided before that we want to get to a more steady state and be buying and potentially selling a lower number of players each year. I think we’re in that kind of environment now compared to where we were two, three years ago, when perhaps there was a little more churn required.
“And in terms of guidance around that, obviously we don’t guide around player spend. It’s a number you can track almost on a deal-by-deal basis because things are very widely published when they happen, but it is not something we will guide on.”
Woodward was similarly coy when asked by an investor about United’s pre-season tour destination. The trip to China last summer ended farcically as their friendly with Manchester City was cancelled owing to the condition of the Bird’s Nest pitch in Beijing.
It is understood United intend to go to the US, although Woodward would speak only on the make-up of the tour.
“I can say it will be a larger tour than last year,” he said.
Woodward expects such support to keep United as the world leader in shirt sales, pointing to the lack of impact Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid had in 2009.
“How do we see that progressing? We see that continuing,” he said.
“Stars help but the reality is we did a lot of analysis when Cristiano left the club in 2009 and it doesn’t have a material impact when a star leaves because people go to buy a Manchester United shirt. And then when they go in the shop or they’re online deciding which name to put on the back, that’s when they make that decision. But the decision of making the purchase is a different one to the name on the back, so we see that continuing.”