Woodward bank on Manchester United top-three spot, January spree 'unlikely'

Ed Woodward has revealed that Manchester United expect to finish in the top three of the Premier League this season, and do not anticipate another huge spending spree in January.

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The club's executive vice-chairman said money is available if manager Louis van Gaal wants to buy, but suggested there will not be a repeat of the British record-breaking 153 million-pound spend on six players this summer.

Instead, they have charged the new coach with taking them back into the Champions League with their current squad and believe their wage bill will go down for the 2014-15 year, despite the arrivals of big earners Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.

United revealed record revenues of 433 million pounds for the 2013-14 financial year and anticipate that will drop to between 385 to 395 million pounds in their 2014-15 accounts.

But that is based on a belief that United -- who finished seventh last season and have won none of the first three league games of the current campaign -- will ensure automatic qualification for the 2015-16 Champions League.

"We assume [United will finish] third in our budgets," Woodward said in a conference call to Wall Street analysts.

United broke the British transfer record to bring in 59.7 million-pound winger Di Maria from Real Madrid and embarked on the second most expensive spending spree in one transfer window ever as they loaned Falcao and also bought Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind.

Juan Mata joined United last January as the previous club-record signing, and while Woodward said he will liaise with manager Van Gaal about recruits in the winter transfer window, he is not planning for another major outlay.

"We don't intend to significantly increase capital expenditure [spending] in January," he added. "We will continue to monitor in association with Louis his view of the squad and which areas we want to strength and which areas we want to sell.

"The usual three in, three out is par for the course in the numbers in and out each year, typically in the summer. I wouldn't have expectations for January but if there is a willingness from the manager, we will engage with him and if there an opportunity, we will try and take that as we did last year with January."

Wages rose by 19 percent in the 2013-14 year but United expect them to fall in the forthcoming year, partly because they will not be paying bonuses to players for competing in the Champions League.

Hemen Tseayo, United's head of corporate finance, said: "We expect total wages to be down, due to the sale, retirement of players and no uplifts due to not playing in the Champions League."

Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were three of United's biggest earners and left the club this summer, while Ryan Giggs joined the coaching staff.

United are also no longer paying the salaries of players such as Javier Hernandez, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley.