Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stressed that Ed Woodward’s successor must be appointed on merit rather than sentiment, with the controversial executive vice-chairman set to step down from his role at the end of the year. Ajax chief executive and former Red Devils goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar is among the early favourites for the vacancy, alongside Richard Arnold, who has been a crucial ally to Woodward during the latter’s spell at Old Trafford.
Chief financial officer and close friend of the Glazer family, Cliff Baty, has also been mentioned in connection with the role in line with United’s tendency to appoint from within.
Woodward’s tenure has been characterised by a strong sense of discontent from the club’s supporters, with a large number of fans celebrating the news of the Chelmsford native’s impending departure.
He was believed to be one of the ringleaders behind the failed European Super League proposal that crashed and burned earlier this week, with all but three clubs quickly renouncing their involvement after the plans generated a significant backlash from across the football world.
It remains to be seen who United will choose to succeed Woodward, but Solskjaer has urged his employers to make the right decision.
Although Van der Sar appears to be a popular candidate with supporters based on his contributions as a player, the Red Devils boss expressed his preference for the appointment to work in the best interests of the club over anything else.
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“I’m pretty sure that we will be able to move on and move forward,” Solskjaer told reporters.
“We have to deal with Ed’s departure, we’ve had a very good working relationship, he brought me in here, he supported me.
“I’ve not been involved in discussions over a successor but if they ask my opinion and it comes to that, I’ll voice my opinion on what we need.
“But I’m sure the club is capable of moving forward. It’s important we employ the right man.
“We can’t employ on sentiment, but to have Man Utd’s best interests at heart, that’s one of the criteria of course.
“But I’m not the one who writes the job description, so of course my job now is to take care of results, but whoever comes in I’m hopeful I can have a good working relationship with and I can provide results.”
Woodward’s departure will put an end to his nine-year spell as executive vice-chairman.
The 49-year-old’s association with the club began in 2005 when he acted as an advisor to help the Glazer family buy the club, before he was appointed to replace David Gill as the de facto chief executive in 2012.
Woodward released a statement on United’s official website as his resignation was announced on Tuesday, claiming that the Red Devils are in a strong position to achieve further success in the years to come.
“I am extremely proud to have served United and it has been an honour to work for the world’s greatest football club for the past 16 years,” he said.
“The club is well positioned for the future and it will be difficult to walk away at the end of the year.
“I will treasure the memories from my time at Old Trafford, during a period when we won the Europa League, the FA Cup and the EFL Cup.
“I am proud of the regeneration of the club’s culture and our return to the Manchester United way of playing.”