Manchester United executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, watches from the stands. Photo: REUTERS/David Klein

LONDON - The incredible cost of Manchester United’s underachieving squad was laid bare yesterday, with the club’s wage bill revealed to be a staggering £296million.

Jose Mourinho’s men, who finished 19 points behind rivals City last season and are currently eight points adrift of Liverpool, are comfortably the highest-paid unit in the Premier League.

The figures were disclosed in United’s annual accounts, which also showed the club made a British-record £590m in revenue and a profit of £44.1m. United’s outlay on salaries rose £32.4m, taking them well beyond City, at £264m. There is then a considerable gap to Chelsea (£221m), Liverpool (£208m) Arsenal (£199m) and a chasm to Tottenham, recent 3-0 winners at Old Trafford, who paid £127m last year.

All of those clubs are yet to report this year’s figures — although none are expected to be close to United. Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward vowed to carry on spending, but added that the club must be successful on the pitch.

"Everyone is working tirelessly to add to Manchester United’s 66 and Jose’s 25 trophies," he said. "We are committed to our philosophy of blending top academy graduates with world-class players and are proud that, once again, last season we had more academy-graduate minutes on the pitch than any other Premier League club."

Woodward said United turned to Mourinho because they wanted silverware. "Everyone at the club is aligned with the fans on what we need to do on the pitch and that is to win trophies," he said. "That’s one of the reasons we hired Jose Mourinho." While United’s wage bill is high, the key wages-to-revenue ratio sits at around 50 per cent — healthy in football business terms.

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