Week 44 (19 - 25 July 2014)
Manchester United's Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward has built a formidable reputation at Old Trafford as a tough talking financial and commercial whiz-kid who has helped execute the Glazer family's vision. But this week, with the ink still drying on contracts with new players Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw and the largest commercial kit deal in sporting history, he proved that he is increasingly comfortable with the football side of things as well.
Speaking pitch-side at the LA Galaxy's Rose Bowl Stadium, Woodward gave a frank and revealing interview to MUTV, only once pulling his punches when asked if a title challenge this season is realistic. His answer – for the record – would still have had fans nodding in sage approval: "We have to strive to win, that's what Manchester United is about."
But the main insight from the interview was Woodward's enthusiasm for, and knowledge about, every aspect of the club, particularly what happens on the pitch and in the stands. Woodward and the MUTV interviewer, Stewart Gardner, discussed the classic matches with Barcelona in the 1998/99 season, the current squad on the USA Tour and the singing section. Woodward also showed a lighter side when talking about having to bite his tongue in the directors' box at away games, and how he became an honorary Dutch fan during the latter stages of the World Cup.
Yet perhaps the most appealing moment was when Woodward spoke of how potential transfers can come to dominate his thinking:
"This morning, waking up in LA, obviously a little jet-lagged at 3am but I was immediately thinking about what trades we might be doing in the coming weeks. You can't stop thinking about it."
Every United fan will have had similar fixations – even at a similar hour – and it's this sticker-book enthusiasm which shows Woodward is just as much a football man as a business man.