In Depth

Van Gaal backs Woodward after Pedro transfer saga

Man United vice-chairman back in the spotlight after Pedro deal, despite big-name signings

Manchester United may have spent £80m this summer and signed big-name players including Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin, but their failure to land Pedro this week has prompted more scrutiny of their transfer dealings and the role of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

United's aborted efforts to sign Pedro, who eventually joined Chelsea on Thursday, were reminiscent of the David Moyes era, when United tried to sign Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas and Gareth Bale but ended up with Marouane Fellaini.

This time Woodward flew to Spain to finalise a deal, only to return empty handed after United decided they didn't want the player after all. To compound matters it is clear that United are still chasing players with just over a week before the transfer window shuts.

"What has been viewed as a good summer of business so far for United is in danger of turning," says the Daily Telegraph. "Deciding not to sign Pedro is not in itself a problem, but the fact that Woodward flew to Barcelona on Monday with the terms of his transfer on his agenda (even if, intriguingly, it was not the only piece of business discussed) makes it more so.

"It is hard to believe that United did not sign Pedro because Woodward was quibbling over payment schedules. That [Louis] Van Gaal was, ultimately, unsure is a more credible theory but it does not stop Woodward being blamed."

The manager has backed Woodward in the aftermath of the Pedro affair, reports the BBC. "Every day I am updated by him and I trust him," said Van Gaal, who added that United's chief did his job "very well".

But while transfer gossip is often misleading, a graphic of a Man Utd XI made up of players the club have failed to sign this summer has been doing the rounds on Twitter.

Alongside Pedro are players like Nicolas Otamendi (now at Manchester City), Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale of Real Madrid,

Worryingly, United appear to have been used, not for the first time, as a patsy by stars in Spain looking for improved contracts.

"Barcelona and Real Madrid defenders Dani Alves and Sergio Ramos were both heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford before penning lucrative new deals," notes the Daily Mail. "It points to a scattergun strategy at odds with what has gone before when United always seemed to get their man."

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