Failing to plan is planning to fail. Lessons from the lack of strategy at Manchester United.



As we watch the demise of Manchester United, some with horror, others with glee – there is one thing we can all agree on – the strategy is clearly lacking, in fact, it is missing altogether. Having a strategy that will allow you to gain an edge over your rivals is vital if you wish to remain competitive.

Solskjaer is a club legend and perhaps sentimentality clouded judgment as he went from interim to permanent Manager, based on some short-term success. But where was the plan?

We saw a similar pattern in bringing back another legend, Cristiano Ronaldo. Although he’s brought in a lot of talent and drive to the team, he’s arguably also overshadowed many of the other talented players in the squad and some would argue this has contributed to the demise of the playing style and team’s success. From a business perspective, he increased the share price by $5 per share – so from the Glazers point of view this was a savvy move – short term. But at what cost to the brand in the longer term? (Incidentally, the share price has now dropped with the plummet in form and Solksjaer’s departure).

We also saw other wins – 10 million followers on Tik Tok – a triumph in one year, no doubt Ronaldo helped build upon an already successful brand to help grow this number. We’ve also seen that they have a carefully managed plan for each of the team members, but this caused controversy and Gary Neville went on record to decry the soulless content that followed as a result. PR is a great tool for professionals, but if every player begins to speak and act like a robot then something isn't working.

Behind the success of the brand, are we seeing the cracks that come from a club that isn’t following a strategy?


Football, like marketing, has many pressures and deadlines; transfer windows, qualification to competitions that impact on revenues, and of course competing teams or brands. A well-run brand, or football team in this instance, will use certain markers to assess whether they are succeeding in comparison to their rivals and then use the data to find weaknesses that they can exploit.

A strategy should set long-term goals and be flexible enough to adapt to mitigating circumstances. That’s what seems to have been missing from the United board – they’ve been creating plans without a strategy, and we’ve watched as each one has crumbled. From Van Gaal to Moyes to Mourinho, now Solskjaer. These coaches have taken the fall for the club’s lack of long-term vision.

So, what lessons can we learn?

Make sure your marketing supports the business plan and considers the short, medium and long term. Even when you reach the top, you have to keep pushing to stay there. There are different strategies you can implement that will address the different needs of your business. PPC is a great way for you to increase traffic in the immediate future, but it will only work for as long as you pay to run it. Search engine optimisation, on the other hand, is more of a long-term project that will have a lasting impact, though it can take some time for it to bear fruit.

The strategy and the brand should be in everything you do. The brand isn’t just the badge on the shirt, it’s the soul of the company. By not being a competitive outfit moving forward, the brand of Manchester United will continue to be damaged and this will have a lasting impact on the club.

What those running Manchester United need to do is to find a way to address the footballing needs of the club in a way that will continue to satisfy the ownership. Mediocrity and the odd big signing might bring success in the stock market, but it is ruining the image of the club and disenfranchising those who live and breathe Manchester United. Smart long-term planning is what will bring the club stability and a platform from which to progress as they enter this next chapter in the club’s long and illustrious history.


What is your strategy for next year? If you want to have a chat about getting one set up give us a call and set up a free no-cost consultation.



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