Man Utd progress clear under Solskjaer, says Woodward

By Ben Somerford 5 March 2021 105
Man Utd progress clear under Solskjaer, says Woodward

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward lauded the "progress" made by the side under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season.

Speaking as the club's latest quarterly financial results were announced, Woodward said United have made progress, both on-field and commercially over the past 12 months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Woodward highlighted the work of Solskjaer, whose side are second in the Premier League, 14 points adrift of runaway leaders and neighbours Manchester United.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17 - following Wednesday's disappointing 0-0 stalemate at Crystal Palace.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

"The progress made by Ole and the players this season is clear and our thriving Academy and Women's team are also adding to the optimism we feel about the future on and off the pitch," Woodward said.

United – without a Premier League title since 2012-13 – are also into the FA Cup quarter-finals and the Europa League last 16 this season, while they reached the EFL Cup semi-finals.

The Red Devils exited the Champions League in the group stage after a bright start in a tough group including last season's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain and 2019-20 semi-finalists RB Leipzig, but eased past Real Sociedad last week in the Europa League last 32.

Domestically, United are the fifth top-flight team to remain unbeaten in their first 14 away top-flight matches in a season (W8 D6), after Leeds United in 1973-74, Liverpool in 1987-88 and Arsenal in both 2001-02 and 2003-04.

United's unbeaten away run in the league extends back 21 matches until the 2-0 loss to eventual champions Liverpool in January 2020.

Solskjaer took over as United manager on a caretaker basis in December 2018 following Jose Mourinho's dismissal, winning the job permanently in March 2019 on a three-year deal.

The Norwegian has less than 18 months remaining on that contract but revealed last month has not yet opened discussions with the club about an extension.

Meanwhile on United's commercial progress, Woodward added: "While the disruption to our operations remains significant, we are pleased by the tremendous resilience the club has demonstrated through the pandemic, underpinned by the dedication of our people and the strength of our commercial business.

"We have been reminded of the importance of football as a source of community, entertainment and pride to fans around the world, even as we have sorely missed them at Old Trafford."

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