Manchester United have told supporters that their priority is “winning trophies at the highest level” despite criticism that the club are more focused on commercial success.
United (opens in new tab) have not won the Premier League title since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are already 10 points adrift of current leaders Liverpool (opens in new tab) following Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by West Ham (opens in new tab).
But despite their shortcomings on the pitch in the last six years, the Red Devils remain a financial juggernaut.
According to figures released 12 months ago, United’s revenue reached a record £590m in the year running to the end of June 2018, and they are expected to be even better when the next end-of-year financials come out this week.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward reacted to the 2018 record by insisting that United’s “strong long-term financial performances underpins everything we do and allows us compete for top talent in an increasingly competitive transfer market”.
United invested £145m on three new signings this summer, although their net spend was around half that amount due to the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Inter (opens in new tab) for £74m.
Many supporters have grown disillusioned with the club’s approach, forcing United to mount a defence of their actions at a recent fans’ forum.
"Everyone at the club, from the owners down, is focused on competing for and winning trophies at the highest level," a United spokesman said, as reported by ESPN (opens in new tab). “To do that we have invested heavily in the playing squad and will continue to do so.
"At the same time, the exciting pool of talent coming through from our youth and academy sections is a result of increased investment in this area over the last five years.
“It's important to note that while our successful commercial operation helps drive that investment, the priority is the focus on achieving success on the pitch.
“Similarly, it's worth noting that we're not looking at or buying players based on their commercial appeal. We agree that recruitment is critical.
“We are committed to getting this right and there has been huge investment in this area to put our recruitment department into a position to be able to deliver the manager the players he wants. This process is significantly more effective than four or five years ago.”
United will seek a return to winning ways when they welcome Rochdale to Old Trafford in the third round of the EFL Cup on Wednesday.
10 players who came to the Premier League too early (opens in new tab)
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Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).
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