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The inner story of Woodward United’s reign

Ed Woodward walked through the rickety wooden panels of the mixed zone at Jan Breydel Stadium. Manchester United had just defeated Club Brugge 7-1 on aggregate to qualify for the Champions League and Woodward, wrapped in a raincoat over his club Paul Smith suit, gave the crowd of reporters a thumbs up.

It was 2015 and United were back on the continent after a season without European football. United had invested impressively and Woodward was optimistic about what would be his last televised encounter with MUTV (“When people see Schweinsteiger on the roster it’s going to send shivers down your spine.”) Four months later, United was still in Europe – the Europa League.

It was under Woodward’s watch that United became a yo-yo club; move up to the Champions League, then the daunting Europa League. The season of their Champions League return, United finished behind PSV Eindhoven and Wolfsburg in the group stage and fell into the chasm of Europe.

United were relegated to the Europa League again last season and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was rewarded for “managing” to reach a second-rate final on a three-year contract. He was the third United manager to be sacked less than a year after scribbling his name on a contract.

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