Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward says “everyone at the club” is determined to bring back success by winning trophies.
Speaking to club investors after the club reported record annual financial revenues of £627.1m, Woodward – unusually – addressed on-field matters.
“Everyone at the club remains resolute in our desire to get Manchester United back to the top of English football,” he said. “We will continue to make the investments necessary to make that happen.”
The latest financial figures cover the 12 months to 30 June.
United have finished in the top three of the Premier League once in six seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
They have failed to qualify for the Champions League three times during that spell and are eighth in the Premier League this season after six games.
The club estimate their failure to qualify for this season’s Champions League will cost them between £40m and £60m in reduced revenue for 2020.
“We and our growing global fanbase demand success,” said Woodward. “Success means winning trophies and that target has never changed.”
‘It is important we are patient’
United have started this season disappointingly under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at West Ham left them seven points behind leaders Liverpool and trailing Leicester, West Ham and Bournemouth.
Former boss Jose Mourinho, former captain Roy Keane and former Liverpool boss Graeme Souness were damning in their condemnation of the club on Sky Sports on Sunday, adding their voices to allegations from supporters on social media that the club are more interested in finance than football.
Those comments are rejected by United sources, who say the club’s commercial income, which has fallen slightly to £275.1m – 44% of overall revenue – exists to help the football side of the club, not diminish it.
“The progress we have made on the business side underpins continued investment in the football side,” said Woodward, who added that investments made, particularly around the recruitment department, ‘have given us the building blocks for success’.
“We are confident this investment will deliver results but it is important we are patient while Ole builds for the future.”
This summer, United spent £145m on three players, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James. In addition, Marcus Rashford, David de Gea and Victor Lindelof are among the first-team players to get significant new contracts.
United say they are happy with their summer business, with Woodward feeling the approach was the right one.
It is understood the club are open to reviewing the football structure and personnel within it amid anticipation of the appointment of a technical director, something United themselves raised in the wake of Mourinho’s exit last December.
However, Woodward says the future direction of the club is set.
“Returning to the roots of club’s ethos of youth-led attacking football is the right way forward,” he said.
“We won’t be influenced by short-term distractions.”