Manchester United’s squad this season has regularly been described as being one that is in ‘transition’, with an acceptance from both the club’s hierarchy and its fans that the team’s performance on the pitch might dip.
But looking at the position the club has found itself in – out of the race for the title or silverware and, crucially, mathematically out of the running for a top four finish and thus qualification for next season’s Champions League – it seems nobody expected quite such a dramatic decline.
Notwithstanding the addition of Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini, the squad is ostensibly the same as the one with which Ferguson won the premiership by a distance of 11 points last season. So what went wrong?
Firstly, there was a lack of what is known in business circles as the ‘100-day plan’. This describes the first 100 days that define whether or not a new business leader is going to be successful.
It is the period during which a new MD or CEO should refrain from making any major changes and instead take time to observe company culture, understand what it will accept, and identify areas that are working and those that are not.
Yet when Moyes was appointed, he immediately replaced key people such as René Meulensteen, Eric Steele and Mike Phelan with his own coaching staff.
In the context of business, this is the equivalent of staff being told that the MD is leaving at the end of the week, that their line management is changing, and that the way they do their jobs is changing too.
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