Ed Woodward has claimed Manchester United’s unlikely Premier League title bid is down to the club’s ‘top-class recruitment’, despite a frustrating summer that saw them miss out on Jadon Sancho, waste £40million on Donny van de Beek and complete a handful of last-minute deals. 

United’s poor form earlier on in the campaign saw Solskjaer come under heavy fire, with serious questions being asked about his position, though fortunes have massively risen in recent weeks.

The Red Devils have seven wins and two draws from the last nine Premier League results, in a run which has seen them rocket up the table and now have the opportunity to go joint top with bitter rivals Liverpool.

Ed Woodward has heaped praise on Manchester United's recruitment, despite another frustrating summer transfer window

Ed Woodward has heaped praise on Manchester United’s recruitment, despite another frustrating summer transfer window

Sancho remains at Dortmund with several of Europe's biggest clubs now interested

United refused to pay Villa's asking price for Grealish and he signed a new contract

United made a public play for Jadon Sancho but missed Borussia Dortmund’s strict deadline

Things have clicked for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who have seven wins from their last nine

Things have clicked for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who have seven wins from their last nine

And executive vice chairman Woodward has claimed the club’s work in the transfer market is a major factor behind their upturn in form when, in reality, it was another poor summer for the club. 

Speaking in United’s programme ahead of Friday’s clash with Aston Villa, Woodward said:  ‘Just as important is the work we see being done behind the scenes to build a winning culture consistent with the club’s traditions of attacking football played by youthful, hard-working teams fusing homegrown talent with top-class recruits.  

‘We are getting closer to those objectives as the squad continues to develop following the arrivals of Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani.

‘Our ongoing investment reflects the tremendous resilience of the club and our commitment to supporting Ole, while remaining disciplined at an extremely challenging time.’ 

Woodward also signed Alex Telles (left) and Bruno Fernandes (right), who has had a huge impact at Old Trafford

Woodward also signed Alex Telles (left) and Bruno Fernandes (right), who has had a huge impact at Old Trafford 

But United’s ‘top-class recruitment’ missed out on Sancho, despite an incredibly public series of talks with Borussia Dortmund. 

The Premier League giants were set a stiff deadline by the German side in the summer but failed to meet it as Sancho jetted off on pre-season. It was at that stage Dortmund refused to discuss this issue further.

United also flirted with a move for Jack Grealish but baulked at Aston Villa’s asking price before he went on to sign a new five-year contract with Dean Smith’s side.

United then moved to sign Van de Beek from Ajax. It cost £40m to lure the Dutch midfielder from Amsterdam but he has made just two start in the Premier League.

Van de Beek joined an already congested midfield of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic. Despite some impressive showings, he has been unable to get regular first-team football. 

With United leaving their search for a new forward until the final days of the summer transfer window, they eventually moved for Cavani. 

The 33-year-old Uruguayan joined on a one-year deal in October, with the option of a further year, and has brought added impetus to the United attack. 

Donny van de Beek (C) was signed for £40m but has made just two Premier League starts

Donny van de Beek (C) was signed for £40m but has made just two Premier League starts

Marcus Rashford's injury time winner against Wolves pushed United within reach of the top

Marcus Rashford’s injury time winner against Wolves pushed United within reach of the top

United also spent £14million on Alex Telles, a left-back from Porto, despite having Luke Shawn and Brandon Williams in the squad and welcomed youngsters Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo, who is still yet to gain a work permit. 

Woodward added: ‘There is much to be excited about on the pitch as Ole and the team head into the new year competing strongly in the Premier League and with three cups still to pursue.

‘The team’s positive form has lifted all our spirits in recent weeks, winning seven and drawing two of our last nine domestic games.

‘There are many positive statistics showing the progress made under Ole in the past year. But they tell only part of the story. 

‘As always, our priority is to win trophies and, with the team going into the new year competing on four fronts, we are optimistic about the path ahead in 2021.’ 

Victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford on New Year’s Day will see United go top of the table, on 33 points with Liverpool after 16 games played.