Richard Arnold set to replace Ed Woodward as Manchester United CEO, but what will change?

The club have confirmed that Woodward will depart at the start of February, when his responsibilities will be handed over to Arnold.

Ed Woodward initially planned on leaving his role at the club in the New Year, but Manchester United have now confirmed the 50-year-old will depart at the start of February.

He first announced he was stepping down as executive vice-chairman last April following the European Super League saga, but ended up staying in his role until 2022.

Now, though, the club have named Richard Arnold as his successor. Arnold has worked for United since 2007, and was named as the group managing director in 2013, where he has worked since.

Following the announcement, Arnold made a short statement: "I am honoured to have the chance to serve this great club and its fans," Arnold said. "I am determined to return that honour in any way I can."

He takes the reins at a difficult time for United, who find themselves 22 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City - albeit with two games in hand - after 19 matches.

The performances on the pitch have done little to soothe the fan anger bubbling in the background, with many fans still unhappy since the botched Super League plans, regardless of the club's desperate attempts at building bridges.

Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer vows to improve communication with fans

Much of the anger has been targeted at the despised Glazer family, who maintain ownership of the club. Executive co-chairman Joel Glazer, the most hands on member of the family, was a key part of the process that decided on Arnold's promotion.

"I would like to thank Ed for his tireless work on behalf of Manchester United during his nine years as executive vice-chairman and 16 years with the club," the 54-year-old said.

"We are now looking forward to Richard and his leadership team opening a new phase in the club's evolution, with ambitious plans for investment in Old Trafford, the strengthening of our engagement with fans, and continued drive towards our most important objective - winning on the pitch."

Arnold's appointment will be greeted positively by most fans just due to Woodward's departure, but club ambassador's and former greats Peter Schmeichel and Bryan Robson have rallied behind the new man in charge.

"If you have a walk around Old Trafford with Richard you will find out first of all how respected he is but he also knows people," Schmeichel said.

"He knows everyone. He talks to everyone. He is interested in people and whoever is working for Manchester United, and I think that is important.

"It's something I experienced with Sir Alex. I think one of the key factors in Sir Alex's success was that he knew people.

"He knew who he was dealing with, and he could understand very, very quickly why a person for instance wasn't doing what the person was supposed to do, and that's just something I've experienced with Richard as well.

"He knows everybody and I think he will be someone who his staff will look at as a safe leader; someone they can respect and someone they can follow, and I think that's important."

Bryan Robson, Manchester United ambassador

Former United captain Robson - another club ambassador - called it "a great appointment by the club", but pointed toward's Arnold's commercial successes as a driving factor.

"I've travelled all round the world with Richard over the years and you can see how determined he is," said Robson.

"His man management skills are great, and he's been very successful for this football club since he took over on the commercial side, and that is really important because the fans have been fantastic at this club - 74,000 or 75,000 every week - then you have got the TV money.

"But that commercial side is the one that really helps buy the players, and you look at our summer transfers and the money that we laid out - a lot of that is down to the commercial aspect which Richard has brought into the club."

Arnold is also the chair of the Manchester United foundation as well as the vice-chair of the club's fan forum - set up following the European Super League debacle to try and encourage more transparency between the club and it's supporters.

However, it's hardly helped matters off the pitch, and they're not much better on it either. Just 10 months ago, Arnold called Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a "phenomenal success", yet he comes into his new role overlooking Ralf Rangnick as interim manager.

The new system at the club is designed to allow those on the footballing side of the board to have greater autonomy, but the truth of the matter is that both the director of football John Murtough as well as technical director Darren Fletcher both have to report to Arnold as their higher-up.

Despite clearly struggling from top to bottom, United looked internally for their new chief executive. Whether that's the right call or not will only be answered in time.

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