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Real rattled, Bayern battered: Why Woodward has Man Utd back on top

COMMENT: This was the day Ed Woodward earned his stripes at Manchester United.

Like rapid fire, United's media team fired out media releases. First it was Bastian Schweinsteiger. A minute later, it was Morgan Schneiderlin. We'd barely had the chance to digest what had arrived when the reactions from Louis van Gaal hit the screen.

He wanted 'Basti', just as he wanted Schneiderlin. They were his first-choices - and Woodward delivered.

Making it all the more sweet was what was occurring at the other end of town. We all began the morning expecting news out of Manchester City about Raheem Sterling's medical. Yet, it was barely mid-afternoon when Woodward and United had sucked all the oxygen out of the news cycle. City? Sterling? No, the world wanted to know about Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin.

For those still interested, Sterling and Aidy Ward, his agent, were still,... ahh ..., discussing personal terms with City late yesterday.

From Woodward's corner, what should be highlighted amongst all the excitement is that Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin arrive for less than the £49 million City are paying Liverpool for Sterling. And if the fee Woodward has agreed with Southampton for Schneiderlin is closer to £20 million than £25 million, we can add on top of that Matteo Darmian's deal. That's some business from the United exec.

The will of the players was important. But Woodward still had to negotiate a minefield to get all three deals over the line - and before this morning's flight to the US.

Schneiderlin's relationship with Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, and his admiration for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal had to be overcome. In Turin, they're still baffled why no Serie A club came in for Darmian at Torino, where president Urbano Cairo is a notoriously stubborn negotiator. Think Daniel Levy on steroids.

But Woodward clinched both deals - and not at prices in the Sterling class.

Then there's Schweinsteiger and the politics at Bayern Munich. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the club chairman, confirmed the decision to sell Basti on Saturday during their official season opening. The announcement was greeted with boos and jeers from fans inside the Allianz Arena. Basti's exit has left Rummenigge and his board needing to repair a rift with fans. For coach Pep Guardiola, this could be a hopeless task.

Jupp Heynckes, Bayern's Treble winning coach, summed things up yesterday: "Especially for the Bayern fans, Bastian is an icon and role model. He did everything for the team, not for himself."

Just imagine if Thomas Muller is tempted the same way? Could Rummenigge, so happy to goad and taunt Premier League clubs in recent years, actually survive?

Rewind two months and Woodward also played a blinder nicking Memphis Depay away from PSG. Van Gaal had made it clear he wanted the Eredivisie Golden Boot. But a deal with PSV Eindhoven almost collapsed as PSG came forward. But Woodward stepped up and - along with Van Gaal - was able to convince Depay to choose Old Trafford over the bigger earner waiting for him in Paris.

Its official: Ed Woodward is now a feared powerbroker in the game.

Need further proof? Woodward is even strong-arming Real Madrid over the on-off David de Gea saga.

This morning, both Marca and AS are headlining with snaps of Woodward as he demands not just Sergio Ramos in negotiations for De Gea, but also Keylor Navas. 'IT'S TWO FOR ONE' scream the Spanish headlines. Woodward is insisting Real sends United Ramos and Navas for De Gea - with no cash changing hands.

Still dealing with the fiasco of Sunday's low-key Iker Casillas farewell, Woodward's demand is the last thing Florentino Perez, the Real president, wants to be reacting to. Suddenly, it's Real Madrid, not United, who are on the back foot.

In the space of 72 hours Woodward and Van Gaal has transformed United - on and off the pitch.

Bayern have been rocked. Real are rattled. And United, after two years in the wilderness, are behaving like the club with the biggest fanbase in the world.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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