Gary Neville has criticised Ed Woodward’s reaction to Manchester United’s 3-2 defeat at Brighton.
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward remained in his seat after the match at the Amex Stadium, in which United’s defensive failings were exposed time and again.
United failed to bring in the new centre-back Jose Mourinho wanted during the summer and former defender Neville said Woodward, having handed him a contract extension until 2020 in January, had to back the Portuguese manager.
“If Ed Woodward was going to doubt Jose Mourinho, the time to doubt him was at the point whereby he should have said I’m not giving you a new contract last January,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
“The minute he gave him a contract extension – which some may say was unnecessary halfway through a season – believing in the manager and showing the faith, he had to then buy him the centre-backs. He had to get (Harry) Maguire and (Toby) Alderweireld because they wouldn’t have made those mistakes at Brighton.”
Neville said Woodward’s actions at Brighton could be viewed as a “show of dissent”.
He added: “The CEO sat in his spot for two minutes after the game on Sunday in what I can only describe as something I don’t want to see the CEO of Manchester United do. At the end of the game, stand up, go and shake the opposition CEO’s hand, tell him well done and that you’ll see him later in the season, smile and be bigger than anything.
“All I could see was a show of frustration, or something that could also be interpreted as another show of dissent. At the moment there is definitely angst between the club and Jose.
“Don’t get me wrong, the club have supported Jose Mourinho and given him a lot of money, but you cannot go half-hearted. I gave the analogy that if you’re going to build a house, you’ve got to finish it, and they had to finish it if they gave him that contract extension in January.”
Neville has implored the club to bring in “a footballing structure” underneath Woodward.
“Ed Woodward’s job is to deliver profits on and off the pitch,” he added. “Profit on the pitch is performance and trophies – league titles and Champions Leagues.
“The club are delivering off the field, Ed Woodward has done an incredible job in terms of the commercial operation and the way in which the club makes an operating profit, but there is no doubt he should put a footballing structure underneath him that his extremely serious and can go and deliver for him on the pitch.
“Football has changed, gone are the days of a chairman and manager. Now there are heads of recruitment, sporting directors and a series of people that are operating at the best football clubs in the world, like Bayern Munich and, unfortunately Manchester City, whose operating structure and people are fantastic.
“Manchester United now have to do the same. Ed Woodward can then sit there as executive vice-chairman and make sure the commercial side and the footballing side deliver profit on and off the pitch.
“United need serious football people to be able to guide the club because they’ve been bouncing from strategy to strategy.
“The traditions at the club went out of the window when they sacked David Moyes halfway through a season, Louis van Gaal after an FA Cup win and appointed Jose Mourinho.
“You’re now in a mode of modern football, so the club needs to adapt a modern structure. The old style of principle at Manchester United, where they were patient and gave managers an opportunity over three or four seasons, is over.
“The way the club are trying to operate now is by spending serious money, £200m a season. You need serious people you can trust to spend that money for you.”