After a summer of misleading headlines, deflated hopes and ultimate disappointment, the majority of Manchester United fans pointed the finger of frustration at new chief executive Ed Woodward.
With each new transfer window misstep – each seemingly botched attempt to flirt with and ultimately sign a superstar either ready-made or of the future – United fans grew increasingly frustrated with the man tasked with replacing David Gill.
In a summer of transition, it was Gill’s successor who bore the brunt of the abuse, rather than the man tasked with replacing Sir Alex Ferguson.
And now, United’s former manager has revealed that he believes Woodward is unlikely to be able to manage on his own…at least for now.
Speaking in an extensive interview with the Telegraph, Ferguson said much about his past, his future and his feelings about retirement when it was pondered, decided upon and ultimately enjoyed.
But it was a single sentence about the champions’ current chief executive that proved particularly interesting.
Speaking about his role as a director at Old Trafford, Ferguson said, “We’ve got a young chief executive now who will need help, I think.”
He went on to reveal that Gill is “still there to help him”, while Ferguson is also on hand to support David Moyes whenever he is needed.
But what exactly is the help Woodward requires? Is it simply a case of learning on the job, or is he not yet ready to take on the role?
In truth United would not have given the job to someone unfit for it. And those fans expecting a seamless transition last summer forget that the new men in charge are not inexperienced just not au fait with the inner machinations of the club.
Those things take time, and help. And Ferguson will know he is in part only the man he is because of the men he knew, because of the help he once received before he was experienced enough to dispense it himself.
To openly admit that Woodward needs help is not to admit weakness. It is simply to state a fact.
Where some clubs expect instant success, others understand the importance of time, along with the wisdom of the men whose days were spent learning a multitude of lessons of their own.
image: © tomjoad