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Manchester United have made 'clear' progress under Solskjaer - Woodward

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Ed Woodward says the progress Manchester United have made under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer "is clear."

United have slipped off the pace in the Premier League and sit 14 points behind leaders Manchester City after Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace.

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There is still a chance Solskjaer's team could end the campaign with silverware in the FA Cup or Europa League and speaking as the club released their latest financial results on Thursday -- which showed revenue down seven percent to £281.8 million and profit down 7% to £33.6m -- Woodward gave further backing to the Norwegian.

"The progress made by Ole and the players this season is clear," he said.

"While we are pleased about this season's on-pitch progress and the strength of our current squad, we are equally bullish on our long-term prospects."

It is approaching a year since fans were allowed inside Old Trafford and Woodward accepts United have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK government are hopeful of allowing supporters back into stadiums in May and Woodward says there could be 76,000-capacity crowds at Old Trafford as early as next season.

"While our focus today is on the second fiscal quarter, it is also an opportunity to reflect on what has been an extraordinarily challenging year for Manchester United, for football, and for society as a whole," said United's executive vice-chairman.

"It is almost 12 months since the pandemic began to tighten its grip on the UK and we were required to close Old Trafford to supporters.

"Our focus remains on preparing for the return of fans to Old Trafford. We are seeing some positive examples around the world of live events with reduced capacity crowds delivered safely with social distancing.

"The successful rapid rollout of vaccines and falling rate of infections in the UK makes us optimistic about the government's roadmap out of the lockdown, including plans for the gradual reopening of sports stadia to spectators beginning this spring. Initially this will be with limits on capacity, but we are hopeful of crowds ramping back up to full capacity next season."