The 39-year-old has been in his post as United Under-23 boss for almost three years but is poised to take on his first senior management role. The Ammies, backed by a clutch of former Red Devils stars including Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, are on a ruthless pursuit of promotion out of League Two having failed to qualify for the play-off positions in all three seasons in the EFL since promotion in 2019.
Wood, a former reserve captain at United, will become Salford’s fourth permanent manager since entering the Football League.
His immediate predecessor, Gary Bowyer, lasted 12 months despite signing a two-year deal. He could only lead Salford to a 10th-placed finish in League Two last term, finishing seven points shy of the play-offs, and was axed earlier this week.
Bowyer said in the wake of the season: “It’s disappointing, 100 per cent, and the lads are absolutely gutted because they gave everything like they have done again today. They’re a great set of lads to work with and we’ve got to come back stronger now.”
Bowyer was originally brought in as caretaker boss following the departure of Richie Wellens in March 2021. Wellens, a former Manchester United youth player, was only appointed four months prior and led the club to an EFL Trophy win at Wembley. They overcame Portsmouth on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes to deliver a famous win for the Ammies. But Wellens was gone just nine days later, leaving by mutual consent.
Wellens had been brought in to build on the good work undertaken by Graham Alexander. The former Scotland international was the man who led Salford into the EFL for the first time in their history after promotion in 2019.
He then had them in contention for the play-offs in the 2019-20 campaign only for the pandemic to see the season brought to a half with the points-per-game method meaning they missed out. He was axed in October 2020 with Salford fifth in the table. Neville, the most prominent of Salford’s high-profile co-owners, later admitted that he made a mistake in getting rid of Alexander.
He said: “Graham Alexander should never have left this club. He should never have left, I should never have made that decision that I made. It goes against everything that I believe in and that’s what owning a football club does to you, it takes you to that place where you do things that you don’t believe you ever would do.”
The decision to part company with Bowyer earned Neville plenty of criticism given his forthright views on giving manager’s sufficient time in a job.
His Sky Sports colleague Jamie Carragher could not resist poking fun. After the decision to sack Bowyer had been made, the Liverpool legend tweeted: “@GNev2 puts more people out of work than Boris Johnson.”
Wood is poised to take up the Salford managerial mantle and has close ties with another of the co-owners in Nicky Butt, whom he worked with when the former United midfielder was head of academy and then head of first team development. There is no suggestion over the length of contract Wood will sign at the Peninsula Stadium.
However, given the fate that has befallen his predecessors, he will know that it is likely to count for very little if he does not serve up the holy grail of promotion next season.