The Soft Skills That Could Save Manchester United Millions In The Transfer Market

Fond farewell: Could better man-management skills have kept Ander Herrera at Manchester United? (Photo: James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images)

Getty

Finishing sixth in the Premier League, Manchester United failed to win ten of its last 12 matches in all competitions. While five major domestic rivals are in European finals or winning titles, England’s most decorated club now faces the ignominy of the qualifying round for next season’s Europa League.

Worse still, midfielder Ander Herrera’s confirmation that he will not be renewing his contract, eschewing Salford for the likely lure of Qatar-backed Paris St Germain, may prompt a mini-exodus. Paul Pogba, David de Gea or out-of-contract Spaniard Juan Mata may be next

Meanwhile, the signing that many sports media pundits believe is most crucial – a technical or sporting director to shake-up its wayward recruitment – has yet to materialize.

Missing Link

Many see a link between these events, with Herrera, signed for £29m from Atletic Bilbao five years ago, said to have been unimpressed when he was informed by letter 18 months ago that the option of an extra year in his contract was being exercised. 

Installing a football director a few years ago to be the missing link between accountant bean-counters and the on-pitch management could, the argument runs, have saved the club the £40m-£50m that it will probably cost to buy Herrera’s replacement.

Talent retention, however, is a familiar issue for chief executives and human resource departments, with management of sensitive sporting, entertainment or media types in particular an art, rather than science.

In football, although transfers are the domain of the chief executive, technical or sporting directors are increasingly lending a hand.

But neither are best-placed to deal with the day-to-day motivation and encouragement that fosters good retention figures.

An Arm Around Shoulders

United’s legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson is a case in point. Brutal with his “hairdryer” treatment of underperformance and ruthless in selling David Beckham, Jaap Stam and Roy Keane when he felt they were getting too big for their boots, Ferguson also demonstrated on many occasions his ability to put an arm around shoulders that needed a human touch.

There are several stories of him turning up unannounced on players’ doorsteps after a well-publicised setback; he rode out storms surrounding Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo with a paternal authority and even texted players at other clubs in empathy when they suffered career-threatening bad injuries.

Jose Mourinho was not known for this approach. Instead, John Terry, his captain at Chelsea, has told of how the Portuguese manager would ignore injured players, assigning them no role in helping to win the next game. At United, he famously fell out with Paul Pogba,  the club’s only genuinely world-class outfielder.

Mourinho’s replacement Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in contrast, arguably has higher man-management credentials that coaching prowess.

Brought back specifically to engender togetherness and reconcile rancour, he now has to prove that he can do rather more than engender the kind of new-manager bounce that preceded United’s season fizzling out.

Team Ethos

Mourinho or Solskjaer could easily have taken Herrera aside at training and stressed his central place in their plans before cascading that commitment upstairs to a boardroom that still includes Sir Alex.

Yet, what is most needed in employee retention situations, however, is not a specialist employee-engager or love-giver but a satisfying and inspiring corporate or team ethos that makes even millionaires who need never do another day’s work want to enter their workplace every morning

Passing the buck to a technical or other sole director won’t wash. United needs to re-examine its own purpose and culture.

Is it about bringing in a constant stream of expensive misfits or fostering a long-term commitment to developing, honing and retaining the kind of talent that has made the club world famous?

There are signs that this is being recognised, with recruitment this summer said to be focusing on a tight core of young players who can become the backbone of future success.

Such a strategy could not come a moment too soon but it will involve a level of nurturing and team values that seem to have been missing recently.

Herrera’s exit needs to serve as a serious warning.

 

“>

Fond farewell: Could better man-management skills have kept Ander Herrera at Manchester United? (Photo: James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images)

Getty

Finishing sixth in the Premier League, Manchester United failed to win ten of its last 12 matches in all competitions. While five major domestic rivals are in European finals or winning titles, England’s most decorated club now faces the ignominy of the qualifying round for next season’s Europa League.

Worse still, midfielder Ander Herrera’s confirmation that he will not be renewing his contract, eschewing Salford for the likely lure of Qatar-backed Paris St Germain, may prompt a mini-exodus. Paul Pogba, David de Gea or out-of-contract Spaniard Juan Mata may be next

Meanwhile, the signing that many sports media pundits believe is most crucial – a technical or sporting director to shake-up its wayward recruitment – has yet to materialize.

Missing Link

Many see a link between these events, with Herrera, signed for £29m from Atletic Bilbao five years ago, said to have been unimpressed when he was informed by letter 18 months ago that the option of an extra year in his contract was being exercised. 

Installing a football director a few years ago to be the missing link between accountant bean-counters and the on-pitch management could, the argument runs, have saved the club the £40m-£50m that it will probably cost to buy Herrera’s replacement.

Talent retention, however, is a familiar issue for chief executives and human resource departments, with management of sensitive sporting, entertainment or media types in particular an art, rather than science.

In football, although transfers are the domain of the chief executive, technical or sporting directors are increasingly lending a hand.

But neither are best-placed to deal with the day-to-day motivation and encouragement that fosters good retention figures.

An Arm Around Shoulders

United’s legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson is a case in point. Brutal with his “hairdryer” treatment of underperformance and ruthless in selling David Beckham, Jaap Stam and Roy Keane when he felt they were getting too big for their boots, Ferguson also demonstrated on many occasions his ability to put an arm around shoulders that needed a human touch.

There are several stories of him turning up unannounced on players’ doorsteps after a well-publicised setback; he rode out storms surrounding Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo with a paternal authority and even texted players at other clubs in empathy when they suffered career-threatening bad injuries.

Jose Mourinho was not known for this approach. Instead, John Terry, his captain at Chelsea, has told of how the Portuguese manager would ignore injured players, assigning them no role in helping to win the next game. At United, he famously fell out with Paul Pogba,  the club’s only genuinely world-class outfielder.

Mourinho’s replacement Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in contrast, arguably has higher man-management credentials that coaching prowess.

Brought back specifically to engender togetherness and reconcile rancour, he now has to prove that he can do rather more than engender the kind of new-manager bounce that preceded United’s season fizzling out.

Team Ethos

Mourinho or Solskjaer could easily have taken Herrera aside at training and stressed his central place in their plans before cascading that commitment upstairs to a boardroom that still includes Sir Alex.

Yet, what is most needed in employee retention situations, however, is not a specialist employee-engager or love-giver but a satisfying and inspiring corporate or team ethos that makes even millionaires who need never do another day’s work want to enter their workplace every morning

Passing the buck to a technical or other sole director won’t wash. United needs to re-examine its own purpose and culture.

Is it about bringing in a constant stream of expensive misfits or fostering a long-term commitment to developing, honing and retaining the kind of talent that has made the club world famous?

There are signs that this is being recognised, with recruitment this summer said to be focusing on a tight core of young players who can become the backbone of future success.

Such a strategy could not come a moment too soon but it will involve a level of nurturing and team values that seem to have been missing recently.

Herrera’s exit needs to serve as a serious warning.

 

The Source: Andrew Cave, Contributor. The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of Global Diaspora News (www.GlobalDiasporaNews.com).