Arnold is set to become Manchester United’s new executive vice-chairman in the coming weeks after Woodward steps down and he has some crucial issues to attend to
Manchester United are set to begin a new era in the Old Trafford boardroom.
Following the fallout of the failed European Super League, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodwardconfirmed in April that he would be stepping down from his role before the end of 2021.
Richard Arnold, Group Managing Director of the Red Devils, is poised to be his replacement and is set to be announced as such in the coming weeks.
Having been with the club since 2007, the Cheshire-raised accountant has seen the highs and lows of the United’s recent past, particularly once Woodward replaced the acclaimed David Gill when Sir Alex Ferguson also left in 2013.
Even after manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was recently handed a new contract, and Darren Fletcher and John Murtough were appointed as technical and football directors respectively in a bid by Woodward to leave a more positive legacy, Arnold still has some crucial issues to immediately attend to.
Here, Mirror Football looks at five things on his to-do list.
Resolve Pogba’s contract situation
The looming problem surrounding Solskjaer’s squad is whether Paul Pogba will sign a new deal or depart.
In the final year of his contract, the Frenchman was heavy linked with Paris Saint-Germain in the summer transfer window, who will reportedly look to bring him to his native capital next year for free.
Losing their record signing, 28, for nothing would not be the ideal situation for the Red Devils, who are in discussions with Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, in the hope of extending his stay.
If the midfielder does want a new challenge, however, United could seek a sale in January in order to recoup some of the £89million they paid Juventus to bring the academy graduate home in 2016.
Should Man Utd offer Pogba a lucrative new contract to stay or risk losing him for free? Give us your thoughts here.
Maximise Ronaldo’s commercial value
Despite the obvious footballing benefit, the re-signing of Cristiano Ronaldo could work unparalleled wonders in a financial sense for the Red Devils.
From shirt sales to brand marketing, Ronaldo’s standing as a global force will undoubtedly bulk up the kitty at Old Trafford, like the 36-year-old did so before during the Nike days, as well as at other clubs.
Although Juventus did not win an allusive Champions League title with Ronaldo in their side, chairman Andrea Agnelli insists that bringing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in for €100million and astronomical wages was the right decision.
“Wrong to take Ronaldo? Never,” Agnelli told Corriere dello Sport and La Repubblica.
“I would do it again tomorrow. And Pirlo too. Stability allows us to follow the path of growth by investing in young players and coaches even at their first experience.”
He added: “We brought Cristiano to Italy and his presence alone has guaranteed the other clubs €4million at the box office.”
One glance at the queues for his shirt give a sense that the Old Trafford box office will certainly take a boom once the new all-time men’s top international goalscorer steps foot on the Theatre of Dreams turf.
Help rebuild the Glazers’ reputation
This will not be easy and some supporters would class it as impossible.
Despite years of anti-Glazer family sentiment, the American family still own the club and continue to frustrate the fan base due to a lack of investment into the team and club.
From 2005’s initial protests to the 2010 ‘green and gold until the club is sold’ campaign, nothing seems to have prompted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owners to change their ways and Arnold has a tough task of even slightly healing the relationship between fans and the hierarchy.
Pool via REUTERS)
The hope, though, is that what co-chairman Joel Glazer said in a recent fans forum will ring true, speaking to supporters directly for the first time since 2005 during a June fans forum to kick-off a so-called ‘new era of dialogue’ at Old Trafford.
It is also worth noting Woodward was a favourite of the Glazers’, meaning Arnold has a tough act to follow in that respect as he balances pleasing his bosses and the fan base.
Improve stadium and training facilities
One criticism that had gone largely under the radar prior to the Super League debacle was how run down Old Trafford and Carrington have become.
Fans had become frustrated with the rusty, leaky stadium, while Women’s manager Casey Stoney even reportedly left her role due to the lack of proper training ground facilities for her team.
Although Old Trafford has had a fresh lick of paint for the new season, plenty of maintenance remains to be done.
With the idea of an expansion falling flat due to the south stand’s proximity to a railway line, the Glazers have failed to sanction any renovation during their tenure, while the stadiums of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton have all had noteworthy investment in recent years.
Former captain Gary Neville recently used Manchester City as example to highlight the lack of investment in the city and at their home which will no-doubt have cut the more local members of United’s board deep.
Joel Glazer stated in the virtual fans forum: “We will now accelerate the process of planning much more significant investment and upgrades to the stadium…rest assured, we will consult with supporters throughout the process to end up with a result we can all be proud of.
“The same goes for our training ground. Preliminary planning work is already under way and there will be significant funding available to further enhance our facilities and ensure they remain world class.”
The proof will be clear to see, particularly for regular matchgoers.
Oversee United’s transfer business
Although the Red Devils’ scattergun signing approach appears to be more streamlined under Solskjaer, recruitment remains the hottest of topics.
Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane may be highly-coveted stars and Ronaldo a sporting powerhouse, but fans will want the club to be in the conversation for the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland to once again have a Ballon d’Or-level player employed at Old Trafford.
Murtough now heads recruitment but, if like Woodward, Arnold will have the final say over any major business, such as the club’s pursuit of a defensive midfielder at the value of Declan Rice.
However, incomings are just one piece of the transfer puzzle, with departures being key to raising funds for any arrivals.
Arguably United’s most restraining element during the Woodward era has often been their inability to shift out unwanted stars who continue to collect eye-watering wages but sit in the stands most weeks rather than playing.
That will need to change sooner rather than later if the club want to avoid being weighed down by ill-advised contractual decisions.