“I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.” – John Wooden.
In sports, I see management as a combination of three different skills.
- Man Management.
- Establishing and maintaining culture.
Acceptance Of An Ego Guru At Manchester United
Manager Philosophy Or Club Philosophy
What’s the point of being tactically brilliant if your players won’t work hard to execute your game plan? What’s the point of having players motivated but confused about what exactly they are supposed to execute? And most importantly, what’s the point of going through all this grief if not for long term success and establishing a culture that makes it easier to achieve success.
It is with great pain I have to admit Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is performing two out of the three traits to a high level.
These Manchester United players will run through a wall to buy this man seven more days on the hot seat and that obviously has to mean something. Despite many misses, Ed Woodward has obviously settled down on a solid transfer strategy. That focuses on recruiting experienced proven veteran talent. While balancing that out with cheap young talent the brass believe will develop well under the United structure or under Solskjaer’s watch.
The Norwegian manager is an Ego Guru. A mentality which if executed right can bring huge success or become one of the biggest downfalls of history. He has shown the ability to unite a dressing under one goal and go out and pursue it. Be it the Paris Saint-Germain come back or any run they go on where he is about to get sacked, he just somehow gets these guys up to play again and again somehow. This skill doesn’t mask or make up for his obvious tactical failings but you know what does? Talent.
Talent Can Only Get You So Far
I don’t like Bruno Fernandes cause everything about him seems to be forced, he’s not a natural genius who just acts based on a God-given football instinct like Lionel Messi or Mesut Ozil, you can see him put thought behind his actions, foresee the undeniable high risk of a failure and still decides to act in that direction.
It’s a frustrating experience but then the passes,dribbles and shots keep coming off because the Portuguese playmaker has the talent to do insane stuff like that. In this way, I consider him a magician who just wills the ball wherever he wants.
In this light, he mirrors the United side, a side that doesn’t play with the fluid play of a Bayern Munich or a modern-day Sao Paulo but just continuously wills results their way because they have enough talent to do so. United can have dreadful spells of possession but will get one counter-attacking opportunity and turn the game on its head. After that, they’ll be dreadful for the next 15 minutes before displaying another flash of their potential.
The Problem At Hand
I always thought a change in coach from Ole to a genuine tactician would stabilize the squad under one play style, thus causing those flashes to happen more in sustained bursts rather than occasional flashes in the pan but that isn’t happening. This man is keeping this job. Not because he has shown the potential to grow into a tactical genius but because he already seems to be a genius in man management and culture establishment.
The players obviously get up for him and the United brass seemingly appreciate that greatly. The former United frontman obviously has a special place in his heart for how Sir Alex Ferguson had the club operating and is trying to get back to that. These two factors are keeping him in this job. A tactical genius can show up but what if the players don’t love him? How about if the players reject this new approach? What else does he offer? What culture is he bringing? Does it align with United’s already established culture? How long will he stay? Will he leave and throw the club into an identity crisis?
Manchester United In Five Years Time
In five years Manchester United hope Solskjaer has grown as a tactician, the young core they’ve assembled have gelled into a formidable side with a few big-name additions along the way. Ole is consistently giving opportunities to new, cheap, up and coming talent into the side. They have a solid and stubborn strategy to break down the defence and the team is explosive every time they win the ball and go forward. This is definitely a dream worth chasing but is football patient enough these days to allow this growth of a coach into his job? Is Ole really a developer of talent? If three years from now it still flashes in the pan rather than any step forward, what then?
I’ve come to accept that United have made a long term commitment. While I may not like it. United seem to have finally got a strategy together to take the club forward.
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