Money the name of only real game at Old Trafford

Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

On one of Manchester United’s regular conference calls with investors in May, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward offered what he called a “very simple and candid” answer to one question.

Had the improved performances in the Premier League during Jose Mourinho’s second season contributed to an increase in revenues? In short, the answer was no.

“Playing performance doesn’t really have a meaningful impact on what we can do on the commercial side of the business,” Woodward said.

It was a line as “simple and candid” as Woodward had promised, summing up the far-reaching, all-conquering, ‘official mattress and pillow partner’ commercial behemoth that is the modern day United. Win, lose or draw, there’s always the Megastore.

As a line, it could also easily have come from any one of the many people who work in the interests of Paul Pogba.

Like United, Pogba is presented to an audience of millions around the world on the pitch in the form of slick passes, thrusting runs and stuttered penalty run-ups, but also presented off the pitch as clickable, likeable and shareable content.

And, again like United, Pogba’s ‘commercial side’ is seemingly immune to underwhelming performances.

There is a sense of unfulfillment about Pogba’s time in Manchester so far, but that has done nothing to affect his standing with the club’s hierarchy. And it hasn’t damaged the image of this young, talented and charismatic footballer, either.

His £33.4m partnership with Adidas – who also happen to be United’s kit manufacturers – is only just entering its third year of decade-long contract.

In 2017, Pogba was named the third-most marketable sportsperson on the planet. Only the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and boxing’s Anthony Joshua ranked above him.

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Irish Independent

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