How good was David Gill

Tom Van Persie

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Woodward's failings were partly enabled by the lack of a modern footballing structure David Gill had left.

Woodward was awful, a disaster for this club, but he also inherited a dinosaur of an organisation that was held together by the phenomenal force of Sir Alex Ferguson and made his bosses look good.

I see those final years under Fergie as a time of hubris and complacency (from a club structure perspective) followed by the collapse under Woodward.
You're spot on. And I've seen some criticism of SAF over the years for not implementing a modern structure but that wasn't his job and why the feck would he change things when the structure he had in place was working for him. It was Gill's job as CEO to make sure United were planning for the future and moving with the times.
 

Marwood

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SAF was actually wanting to retire in 2012. He only stayed on because we had a horrible season in the CL and lost the league to City. His sister in law passed away and that pretty much confirmed his retirement for the following year.
No that's not quite correct.

Here's SAF:

"I definitely would have carried on," he said. "I saw she [Lady Cathy Ferguson] was watching television one night, and she looked up at the ceiling. I knew she was isolated. Her and Bridget were twins, you know?"

Bridget being his sister in law who passed Oct 2012. But for the impact on his wife he was carrying on.

When Gill retired Fergie was still talking about the future and working with Woodward.

Gill definitely went before SAF.

Bad timing to lose both but I think we can all agree SAF can leave whenever he wants. He'd earned that.
 

Sviken

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Gill didn't matter... like at all. SAF was basically dictator perpetuo in the club. It literally wouldn't have mattered if Woodward or Mickey Mouse was club executive at the time.
 

Marwood

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Well one could argue that there were signs of decline before then, particularly regarding player recruitment, and that Gill’s lack of future proofing caused his and SAF’s successors unnecessary problems.

What isn’t open to debate is that those successors, or at least the ever-present among them, had plenty of time to fix the issues created by Gill’s negligence yet utterly failed to do so despite having been given nearly nine years.
Agree things were already trending downwards but you still can't dismiss 16 years of trophy laden work because of what happened in the final chapter. Way too harsh.

When Gill resigned he said it was in part because football is changing and new ideas were needed.
 

Gordon Godot

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You're spot on. And I've seen some criticism of SAF over the years for not implementing a modern structure but that wasn't his job and why the feck would he change things when the structure he had in place was working for him. It was Gill's job as CEO to make sure United were planning for the future and moving with the times.
I think you are being a little kind to SAF there. Its clear he put up with Glazers on the basis they pretty much left him too it. He was one of the old school managers who wanted to control everything, but modern top level clubs are too big for one person. He stayed too long and he was part of the reason the structure had withered away, from youth system upwards
 

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He missed out on a lot of our top targets. Can’t remember any changes due to him either. But as we were successful I like him.
I do wonder how much of that is due to the club being cheap, slow to act or whatever or the fact a lot of players, particularly foreign ones, just don't want to
Not sure how easy this is to deduce when you're the right-hand man of Ferguson. If Woodward has the same role with Fergie as his lead, he would have been dictated to until he got it right and learned the tricks and nuances of the trade. I'd also say when you're the representative of Fergie, doors that would otherwise be closed will be wide open for you. Woodward wasn't afforded that privilege.

You've gone from The Godfather to Mr. Bean in terms of managerial aura there, then followed it up with Anton Chigur and Hannibal Lector and topped that off with Forrest Gump (no disrespect intended), so it's a very different scaling for Gill than it was for Woodward.
:lol:
 

Sviken

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I think you are being a little kind to SAF there. Its clear he put up with Glazers on the basis they pretty much left him too it. He was one of the old school managers who wanted to control everything, but modern top level clubs are too big for one person. He stayed too long and he was part of the reason the structure had withered away, from youth system upwards
Think it was more of the fact that club was saddled with 800 million of debt and the Glazers could barely afford to repay said debt while getting their dividends, let alone invest something in the club. SAF is a manager, he's not an investor. The reason why United fell in disarray in comparison to "well run" clubs like City and Chelsea is because their owners invested millions in their respective clubs, while ours took from

SAF's only fault was that he supported the Glazers, despite all of their faults, because he wanted to get rid of the Magniers.
 

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Hazard - fail
Sneijder - fail
Benzema - fail
Ballack - fail
David Vila - fail
David Silva - fail
Ribery- fail

I’m sure I’ve missed a few other big ones.
Iirc we were linked with Samir nasri and ozil also. Thiago when he was leaving barca, but can't remember the season?
 

JPRouve

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Think it was more of the fact that club was saddled with 800 million of debt and the Glazers could barely afford to repay said debt while getting their dividends, let alone invest something in the club. SAF is a manager, he's not an investor. The reason why United fell in disarray in comparison to "wellrun" clubs like City and Chelsea is because their owners invested millions in their respective clubs, while ours took from

SAF's only fault was that he supported the Glazers, despite all of their faults, because he wanted to get rid of the Magniers.
The club had no issue repaying the debt and the shareholders weren't collecting dividends until 2012.
 

Sviken

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The club had no issue repaying the debt and the shareholders weren't collecting dividends until 2012.
Tell me, when did we make any sort of investment since the Glazers took over?
 

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The problem with judging chief execs is there isn't this direct path between what they do and the results until they start appointing managers and you have a serious body of data. With Gill's tenure being covered by Fergie it's very hard to say how much was his acumen and how much the footballing operation was run well. Also, the manager had complete control which again renders a chief exec less instrumental in the footballing side compared to today.

It's a lot easier to comment on the areas that are typically within a chief execs remit, such as negotiations, commercial deals etc. There's a lot more visibility there and I don't think the transfer situation was all good with Gill, but who knows how much he was limited by the ownership. With the football you have to just say he coincided with a successful era so therefore you can't say anything bad against him but it doesn't mean he was this genius in footballing operations.

Also you can definitely lay some blame at his door for the transition period at the club. I think it's a chief execs duty to leave that in a good place.

Overall you can't really say he did a bad job as ultimately we were successful as a club and financially considering the circumstances of the ownership. But I wouldn't be pumping him up as this great exec just because we had Woodward as that tenure isn't a barometer of anything except how to grow commercial revenue streams. I'd be more comfortable on balance to say he was a good chief exec.
 
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JPRouve

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Tell me, when did we make any sort of investment since the Glazers took over?
I'm not really sure of the relevance of this but over the years there has been multiple investments made on the training center notably the medical center. But the point is that the club had money, in fact between 2010 and 2013 the club always had around 150m in cash and cash equivalent, the club only started to spend it from 2013 onward.
 

Sviken

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I'm not really sure of the relevance of this but over the years there has been multiple investments made on the training center notably the medical center. But the point is that the club had money, in fact between 2010 and 2013 the club always had around 150m in cash and cash equivalent, the club only started to spend it from 2013 onward.
Well, if we presume we paid the debt so easily as you would suggest, more investments in the club would have followed. If for nothing else, because such investments would lead to further profit for the Glazers. Obviously it wasn't so "easy" because for the majority of post-Glazers we not only barely spend on maintaining and renovating structure, but also on players. And that certainly wasn't down to SAF because prior to the Glazers takeover he had very little trouble spending big money if required.

The investments you're talking about on the training and medical center (if you can link an article to that I'll be grateful) must have been very small because Carrington has been giving ground in terms of quality to other clubs for a long time. So said investments must have been minimal at best.
 

JPRouve

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Well, if we presume we paid the debt so easily as you would suggest, more investments in the club would have followed. If for nothing else, because such investments would lead to further profit for the Glazers. Obviously it wasn't so "easy" because for the majority of post-Glazers we not only barely spend on maintaining and renovating structure, but also on players. And that certainly wasn't down to SAF because prior to the Glazers takeover he had very little trouble spending big money if required.

The investments you're talking about on the training and medical center (if you can link an article to that I'll be grateful) must have been very small because Carrington has been giving ground in terms of quality to other clubs for a long time. So said investments must have been minimal at best.
For the majority of post Glazer era we increased the wage bill and have been one of the club that spend the most, we also have relatively high reserves of cash and start every years with loads of cash, we have no issue with the debt and never had. The club has spent millions of maintaining, upgrading and renovating infrastructures. The one thing that has not happened is a large overhaul of Old Trafford but a multitude of smaller upgrades and modifications have been made almost every summer.
 

Tom Van Persie

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No that's not quite correct.

Here's SAF:

"I definitely would have carried on," he said. "I saw she [Lady Cathy Ferguson] was watching television one night, and she looked up at the ceiling. I knew she was isolated. Her and Bridget were twins, you know?"

Bridget being his sister in law who passed Oct 2012. But for the impact on his wife he was carrying on.

When Gill retired Fergie was still talking about the future and working with Woodward.

Gill definitely went before SAF.

Bad timing to lose both but I think we can all agree SAF can leave whenever he wants. He'd earned that.
Maybe I'm remembering it wrong but I'm sure a journalist close to United said that he was ready to retire in 2012. And as for bolded part, yeah that's because SAF didn't want it to get out about him retiring. He had made his mind up long before the end of the season that he was going.
 

Sviken

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For the majority of post Glazer era we increased the wage bill and have been one of the club that spend the most, we also have relatively high reserves of cash and start every years with loads of cash, we have no issue with the debt and never had. The club has spent millions of maintaining, upgrading and renovating infrastructures. The one thing that has not happened is a large overhaul of Old Trafford but a multitude of smaller upgrades and modifications have been made almost every summer.
That's post-SAF, not pre-SAF. We were definitely not anywhere near the highest wage bill clubs in the world. Look at our fecking squad in the 2011. You're actually trying to say they were on 200k wages or something (apart from Wayne and that was mostly desperation on our part).

We absolutely did have issue with debt in the beginning. In fact, from what I remember the interest rates increased a number of times in the first few years because the Glazers were unable to pay on time. Furthermore, you still haven't given me the articles on the vast improvements we have made on the training grounds and what not. You also talk about "maintaining and renovating" infrastructure while Old Trafford is literally leaking and most people would say, and with good reason, that it is a very dated stadium, and not in a good way.

The money that was spent after SAF on players has once again been mostly out of desperation and obviously money that was taken from somewhere else because anything United sees as a club is down to its own making. Glazers haven't invested a single cent in the club out of their own pocket.
 

JPRouve

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Maybe I'm remembering it wrong but I'm sure a journalist close to United said that he was ready to retire in 2012. And as for bolded part, yeah that's because SAF didn't want it to get out about him retiring. He had made his mind up long before the end of the season that he was going.
Gill's exit was based on UEFA elections, so he planned it in advance.
 

Tom Van Persie

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I think you are being a little kind to SAF there. Its clear he put up with Glazers on the basis they pretty much left him too it. He was one of the old school managers who wanted to control everything, but modern top level clubs are too big for one person. He stayed too long and he was part of the reason the structure had withered away, from youth system upwards
He did things his way which brought us all our success but if we didn't have such distant owners they would've realised that the club needed proper structure and things should've been in place for when SAF retired. That's the downside of the Glazers leaving everything to SAF. And that's nonsense about staying too long, he was still one of the best managers in the world even when he retired. We would've been in a worse or just as bad of a state if he left earlier.
 

Marwood

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Maybe I'm remembering it wrong but I'm sure a journalist close to United said that he was ready to retire in 2012. And as for bolded part, yeah that's because SAF didn't want it to get out about him retiring. He had made his mind up long before the end of the season that he was going.
I doubt Gill woke up one day, decided he was retiring and announced it that afternoon. Like Fergie he'll have known for a while before announcing.

He went first.
 

JPRouve

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That's post-SAF, not pre-SAF. We were definitely not anywhere near the highest wage bill clubs in the world. Look at our fecking squad in the 2011. You're actually trying to say they were on 200k wages or something (apart from Wayne and that was mostly desperation on our part).

We absolutely did have issue with debt in the beginning. In fact, from what I remember the interest rates increased a number of times in the first few years because the Glazers were unable to pay on time. Furthermore, you still haven't given me the articles on the vast improvements we have made on the training grounds and what not. You also talk about "maintaining and renovating" infrastructure while Old Trafford is literally leaking and most people would say, and with good reason, that it is a very dated stadium, and not in a good way.

The money that was spent after SAF on players has once again been mostly out of desperation and obviously money that was taken from somewhere else because anything United sees as a club is down to its own making. Glazers haven't invested a single cent in the club out of their own pocket.
I didn't say that we had the highest wage bill in the world, I said that we increased the wage bill from 2006, the previous PLC had a notoriously stringent wage structure which saw us miss on multiple players or make extensions more difficult than it should. I never talked about anyone being on 200k, in 2010 ballon d'or contenders were barely earning 200k and Rooney was one of the top earners with his extension, keep in mind that clubs were earning roughly half of what they currently do.

And the club has been maintaining and renovating infrastructures, it also improved certain aspects like the disabled area, they of course renovated the dressing room, floodlights, the medical center, new pitches and the multi millions upgrades requested by LVG among other things. I'm sure that there is a long list of things that needs work but that's true for all clubs and particularly true for an old stadium like Old Trafford but we don't need to pretend that nothing is done.
 

choccy77

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Was having an argument with my mate yesterday who believed Uniteds downfall was because Gill left, as much as Ferguson.

I disagreed. I seem to remember thinking he was not that great. He thought that Gill was fantastic at his job and ran a really well oiled machine at United.

Not sure if anyone has any insight in this. I also think perhaps Gill is a bit over rated because of Woodward’s incompetence that came after him.
Gill was very good, he came from First Choice and other financial backgrounds and was a fan of the club and a huge backer of Sir Alex and knew what the team required.

It was very bad timing for both Gill & Ferguson to leave together and we did suffer for it.
 

Chesterlestreet

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Was having an argument with my mate yesterday who believed Uniteds downfall was because Gill left, as much as Ferguson.
Very little suggests that this is the case.

For one thing, Gill did feck all (as far as we know anyway) in terms of laying any kind of foundation for a future without SAF.

He was good in the sense that he got along well with SAF - but this hardly makes him a genius, just someone who had the sense to let an actual genius work his magic without meddling too much.
 

Caesar2290

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The money that was spent after SAF on players has once again been mostly out of desperation and obviously money that was taken from somewhere else because anything United sees as a club is down to its own making. Glazers haven't invested a single cent in the club out of their own pocket.
Why would they? United are a self sufficient business. And as @JPRouve has pointed out in his posts, the money was always there to be spent. So the question is why wasn't it spent untill SAF retired?

Well a theory I have is that SAF was mulling his retirement for quiet some time. I remember reading that he wanted to retire in 2012, but City winning it delayed the decision by 1 year. So my guess is he didn't want to spend big and not leave any financial resources for his successor. You don't make that decision in a month or two. It's clearly he was mulling the decision for at least 2 years.

Also SAF was being left behind with the times and "modern transfer game" as evidenced by the Hazard deal. We had the whole thing wrapped up and the terms were agreed with the player. The only sticking point was the "agent fees" which SAF refused to pay. As a result we know that happened next and how big the agent fees would get after his retirement.

The argument that we didn't have the money to spend is not true when you start examining our transfer business. We were supper close to agreeing a deal with Benzema until Real swooped in(remember the famous Owen interview where he was praying that the deal falls through so he can join United?), Hazard and a couple of others that have slipped my mind.

Also we couldn't compete with City wage wise, considering most of their players back then had a double wage. One on the books and the other one off shore.
 

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Agree things were already trending downwards but you still can't dismiss 16 years of trophy laden work because of what happened in the final chapter. Way too harsh.

When Gill resigned he said it was in part because football is changing and new ideas were needed.
Well then, if his ideal vision of "new ideas" was Ed Woodward...
 

OrcaFat

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I think Gill knew how to stay out of the way and leave football decisions to people who knew more about it than he did. This was easy to do because of SAF being there but I can’t see that he would have suddenly thought he knew better than Moyes or LVG or Jose.

Woodward’s problem was that he either did not trust his managers or he placed his own commercial priorities above the managers’ footballing priorities. Or both. Or worse, whatever that might be.
 

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You're spot on. And I've seen some criticism of SAF over the years for not implementing a modern structure but that wasn't his job and why the feck would he change things when the structure he had in place was working for him. It was Gill's job as CEO to make sure United were planning for the future and moving with the times.
Agreed that we don't know a great deal about the ins and outs of what Gill, Woodward, etc. effect but we can use some logic and deductive reasoning. I believe that Gill gets rated because he was carried by Fergie's greatness. We had a ton of poor recruitment windows with Gill, which is where the negativity around transfer sagas comes from. We had no clear succession plan in place for Fergie, nor did he leave behind a club that was keeping up with the modern game. Woodward gets pelters for the structure at the club but the guy he inherited the mess from gets absolved by a lot of fans for some reason.
Trying to 'move with the times' or 'keeping up with the modern game' might have meant clashing with Fergie and the way he wanted to do things. I doubt anyone would have done that.

As for having a clear succession plan, I don't think that there was much to be done unless it was known that Fergie was leaving. You could always follow the coaches market in England and Europe, but you could never be really prepared.
 
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Mainoldo

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Iirc we were linked with Samir nasri and ozil also. Thiago when he was leaving barca, but can't remember the season?
I forgot about Nasir.. that one hurt especially as City ruined him due to going there for the wrong reasons.

Thiago was Moyes first summer but we apparently put the work in the summer before. Ozil made Rooney through his toys out :lol:
 

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Gill did great job by leaving at same time, SAF carried the club and everyone looked competent.
Everyone thought Gill was a moron while SAF was there. Once they left at the same time, history was rewritten and Gill was a corporate genius that was an unsung hero in every title win.
 

Sviken

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I didn't say that we had the highest wage bill in the world, I said that we increased the wage bill from 2006, the previous PLC had a notoriously stringent wage structure which saw us miss on multiple players or make extensions more difficult than it should. I never talked about anyone being on 200k, in 2010 ballon d'or contenders were barely earning 200k and Rooney was one of the top earners with his extension, keep in mind that clubs were earning roughly half of what they currently do.
That's mostly due to wage inflation in football than anything. We didn't have many good players post-Ronaldo and we missed way more on good players during the Glazers than we did in the previous years. Around this period came SAF's now notorious "no value in the market" policy.

And the club has been maintaining and renovating infrastructures, it also improved certain aspects like the disabled area, they of course renovated the dressing room, floodlights, the medical center, new pitches and the multi millions upgrades requested by LVG among other things. I'm sure that there is a long list of things that needs work but that's true for all clubs and particularly true for an old stadium like Old Trafford but we don't need to pretend that nothing is done.
Oh come on, you're getting ridiculous now. You can't possibly believe this stuff. We've renovated... the lights... Okay, that's... not even worth commenting Can you honestly sit here and say with a straight face that Carrington and Old Trafford are up to standards?


Why would they? United are a self sufficient business. And as @JPRouve has pointed out in his posts, the money was always there to be spent. So the question is why wasn't it spent untill SAF retired?

Well a theory I have is that SAF was mulling his retirement for quiet some time. I remember reading that he wanted to retire in 2012, but City winning it delayed the decision by 1 year. So my guess is he didn't want to spend big and not leave any financial resources for his successor. You don't make that decision in a month or two. It's clearly he was mulling the decision for at least 2 years.

Also SAF was being left behind with the times and "modern transfer game" as evidenced by the Hazard deal. We had the whole thing wrapped up and the terms were agreed with the player. The only sticking point was the "agent fees" which SAF refused to pay. As a result we know that happened next and how big the agent fees would get after his retirement.

The argument that we didn't have the money to spend is not true when you start examining our transfer business. We were supper close to agreeing a deal with Benzema until Real swooped in(remember the famous Owen interview where he was praying that the deal falls through so he can join United?), Hazard and a couple of others that have slipped my mind.

Also we couldn't compete with City wage wise, considering most of their players back then had a double wage. One on the books and the other one off shore.
This all basically amounts to a lot of speculation and taking various people's words. Now maybe SAF changed in his later years to be very penny stinging, but it's just as plausible that SAF was just protecting the Glazers with his statements since the Glazers allowed him pretty much free reign over the club. I highly doubt that SAF was happy with a late 30's Scholes and Tom Cleverley in midfield. Okay, we know he could work his magic and make all of that work, but the squad wasn't good by any means and even he couldn't save us getting embarrassed by Barcelona in 2011 or losing titles to City and Chelsea we never would have lost if proper investment was in place.

Another thing is that we started spending big after the Moyesy fiasco which would indicate it was more of a panic spend than anything. People are forgetting, but Moyes only got one signing and that was in Fellaini. We know Moyes wanted others, as per his words, and one reason or another they weren't delivered. Now maybe it was Moyes' fault or Woodward, or most likely both, but the fact of the matter is that United only started spending really big after the absolute collapse in Moyes' season that made us finish outside the top 4 for the first time in decades.
 

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david gill was that good that his son could get into our youth set up just because he could identify a football in a line up of a football, a watermelon and one half of jordan.
 

JPRouve

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Oh come on, you're getting ridiculous now. You can't possibly believe this stuff. We've renovated... the lights... Okay, that's... not even worth commenting Can you honestly sit here and say with a straight face that Carrington and Old Trafford are up to standards?
I don't know about Carrington but there is no reason to think that it's not up to standards. What I do know about Old Trafford is that it's one of the UEFA elite stadiums, one of the stadiums that has the required standards to host finals. Which doesn't mean that it couldn't do with a bit of work but lets not pretend that it's not up to standards.
 

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Fergie and Gill are both equally to blame for the lack of long term planning post 2013. You could argue that there were signs going back to 08/09 (Liverpool and Barcelona defeats) that a decline was coming. The lack of competition outside the top 6 meant the gradual decline in standards didn't end up with any major disasters on the pitch. If you think back to say 1995-1997 and 2001-2003, Fergie was never scared of reshaping and rebuilding a successful team. He didn't do that between say 2008 and 2010. As a result, players got old together and short term decisions were being made (signing of Van Persie or getting Scholes out of retirement) to keep everything ticking over. That was never going to last especially with the likes of city getting stronger.

I've often wondered how things would have worked out if Fergie had let Woodward decide the manager in the summer of 2013. Would he have gone for Moyes or would he have gone for a bigger name who might have actually been able to cope with the demands of taking over at that point.
 

Caesar2290

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As bad as it gets, though not Woodward levels of bad, but pretty close. He was bailed by Fergie's genius.

All you need to know about him is that he literally accepted Perez's 80 million Ronaldo initial bid without negotiating for a bigger fee or another player to replace him(Real had Sneijder(which we will fail to sign from Inter in 1 years time) and Robben on their books). I remeber reading that Perez was also very surprised at this. Apparently they were willing to pay up to 100 million pounds for Ronaldo.

He sold one of the best PL strikers in Ruud for 14 million Euros to Real. The man was just as bad at selling players as Woody was. The only difference was because SAF was constantly winning our player valuations were much much higher.

And if you think that he literally let the scouting departing fall into disarray, the fitness department was archaic, the stadium was still stuck in the 80's. Yup, pretty close to Woodward.
 

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All you need to know about him is that he literally accepted Perez's 80 million Ronaldo initial bid without negotiating for a bigger fee or another player to replace him(Real had Sneijder(which we will fail to sign from Inter in 1 years time) and Robben on their books). I remeber reading that Perez was also very surprised at this. Apparently they were willing to pay up to 100 million pounds for Ronaldo.
Didn't we have a gentlemen's agreement with Ronaldo from the previous summer that we'll agree to sell him for 80 million?

As for Robben and Sneijder, obviously the first question is if Fergie was interested....
 

Red the Bear

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I remember reading somewhere that they were also surprised at how cheap we were willing to sell bekham as well.
 

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371
CEO in football should be judged on 2 things:
1) Increasing brand image, revenue and profitability of the club
2) Allowing the footballing staff to execute their long terms plans successfully with limited intervention, resulting in on field success.

Kenyon/Gill/Woody can be credited with doing an amazing job on the first, particularly Kenyon who set the trend. Woody ended up meddling too much in footballing affairs and made football secondary to commercial showboating that it sort of became a comic show, the result of which we are reaping now. Would Gill have done the same thing if SAF wasn't there? No one knows, but no other English club has been run the way we have in the last few decades. In this sense, Woody is an exception.