I pose the question because of the sacking of David Moyes. An issue that has had at least the same amount of coverage as David Cameron’s fall will eventually attract. Even the staid Today programme on Radio 4 kept having items from Old Trafford awkwardly introduced by John Humphrys.
In football the personality of the manager is almost always crucial to success. They need to have a knowledge of the game and man management in equal measure. A media persona also helps. It didn’t always. Sir Alf Ramsey had as much charisma as Clement Attlee but both understated men had enormous success. The former led us to World Cup victory, the latter led Labour to its landslide triumph in 1945. But that was in the age before rolling news.
Now managers have to feed the hungry news beast. Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea boss has this off to a tee. But David Moyes looked haunted from the start. His excuses became repetitive. He looked overwhelmed.
So are United now going to join all the other clubs, bar Arsenal in a constant managerial Merry go round. The fans like this constant change. So says Alyson Rudd, a football columnist with The Times. Do they? Is it actually good for clubs to change their manager every three years are so? Is it good for business to have constant changes in leadership? Let’s remember we used to praise Manchester United for sticking with Sir Alex Ferguson even when the times were bad around 1990.
Sir Terry Leahy had fourteen years at the top of Tesco. He’s been gone three years now and last week’s figures weren’t so good. Is that because Leahy is not in charge or because the economics of superstores is changing?
Do critics of David Cameron’s leadership take into account that he has no majority and came to power in very difficult economic circumstances? Do critics of David Moyes take into account that he was handed a team past its sell by date and with the old boss still around the boardroom. There is also the inevitable cycle that afflicts football and business. No team or company can always be at the top.
The pressure to succeed takes its toll, the product goes out of fashion, and succession planning fails.
Sir Alex Ferguson will have some explaining to do at the Harvard Business School where is now a guest lecturer. Continuity in business and football management is hard. When United last screwed up their succession planning, it was nearly twenty years before Sir Alex came on the scene. For business and football, once you are knocked off the top, it can be a long way back. Liverpool fans know that.
We don’t just need to look in the Premiership. Sean Dyche has just taken Burnley back to the Premiership. He’s one to watch. Meanwhile at Leeds United the lesson that you can be a long tome away from glory is still being learnt. Just because you make one mistake with business leadership, doesn’t mean you can’t fail again and again and again. Good luck with Massimo Cellino, United.