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Woodward looking forward to summer

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Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Ed Woodward believes this summer is an "important opportunity" for Manchester United to build a squad finally capable of challenging for Premier League and Champions League glory.

While the Europa League and FA Cup still provide a shot at silverware, this is shaping up to be another disappointing season for the 20-time league champions. United languish eighth in the Premier League, with fewer than half the points of table-topping Liverpool, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side face a battle to even seal Champions League qualification.

The January acquisition of Bruno Fernandes has been a welcome injection of quality at Old Trafford, but under-fire executive vice-chairman Woodward accepts there is plenty of work to do.

"The signing of Bruno Fernandes and return of key players from injury will be a boost to Ole and the squad as we head into the second half of the season," Woodward said. "We remain in contention in the Europa League and the FA Cup, as well as for Champions League qualification, so there is still lots to play for. However, as a club and a board, we do recognise that we are not yet where we want to be.

"It is the overwhelming priority of everyone at the club to get us back to regularly challenging for Premier League and Champions League titles."

Woodward highlighted the significant work and investment made in the academy, while the United chief said he was pleased with progress being made in ensuring they have the right players, infrastructure and culture to sustain long-term success.

"Similarly, there has been extensive work on our recruitment process, with considerable investment in scouting, data and analytics," continued Woodward, whose house was attacked by some fans recently.

"The recruitment department is working to a clear plan and philosophy, along with Ole and his coaching staff.

"As part of the rebuild we see this coming summer as an important opportunity.

"We had consistently taken the view that we would only buy in January if players we had already targeted for the summer became available and we were pleased that this strategy played out with the signing of Bruno Fernandes."