Ed Woodward has thrown his weight behind Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite the disastrous end to the club’s season.

Ed Woodward has thrown his weight behind Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite the disastrous end to the club’s season.

United finished sixth and missed out on a place in next season’s Champions League following a run of two wins in 12 matches in all competitions between March and May.

But, while the executive vice-chair has admitted it was a below-par end to the campaign, he has cited the disruption caused by Jose Mourinho’s mid-season sacking as one of the factors behind United’s poor return in 2018-19.

“It clearly didn’t end the way we’d hoped, finishing in sixth place and with a disruptive managerial change part-way through. However, Ole and the squad battled back from mid-December to put us in contention to qualify for the Champions League next season and ultimately we came up short,” Woodward told a call with analysts following the release of the club’s third-quarter report.

“While the last few weeks were disappointing, we’re delighted to have confirmed Ole as our manager on a three-year contract and to have recently confirmed key members of the coaching team: Mick Phelan, Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna and Mark Dempsey will all be remaining at the club.

“Everyone at the club – the board, the manager, the squad and all the staff – are resolute in our desire to get United back to the top of English football. We continually look to improve staff on and off the pitch to achieve this.

“The strength of our business means we have the financial resources to continue to provide a solid foundation for backing the manager and creating success on the pitch. This, as ever, remains our number-one goal.”

Woodward added that he is in favour of the new proposals for the FIFA Club World Cup which would see the format extended to see 24 teams compete rather than the current seven, while he believes there are a number of factors at play in early discussions related to a new tiered system in the Champions League.

“This is partly driven by the domestic leagues across Europe not necessarily thriving and there being a desire from the clubs who are towards the top of those leagues to play more European games that perhaps are more competitive,” he explained.

“I think there’s drive from UEFA, which is laudable, to try to give greater access to more teams. So if you look at the year just about to finish, 80 teams competed in the two competitions and the proposal for 2024 is 128 teams.

“From our perspective we’re viewing these proposals as interesting but there is a lot of work to do with stakeholders. We’ll assess it, we’re doing that ourselves, with our colleagues from the Premier League and also the European Club Association.

“From a timeline perspective, I think we can expect to hear more and more feedback on progress around this through 2019, and so therefore clarity in around six to nine months from now.”

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