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Is Change for Arsenal & Manchester United Tougher Than for Other Clubs

Two powerhouses of English Football currently battling to find their feet post what could be considered the most prolific eras in both clubs’ history.

The similarities for both Manchester United and Arsenal are scarily alike with both clubs battling to find their feet after the loss of managers whose careers spanned an entire generation.

Sir Alex Ferguson (27 years) and Arsene Wenger (22 years) have been the centerpiece of their respective clubs until recently and it is clear that the clubs are struggling to move on.

What is real, replacing a manager and their assistants at generational clubs is only part of the solution! The ethos, policies and processes all need to be interrogated and everyone needs to be on board. The ingrained philosophies and methods of the bygone era cannot be continued under a new managers reign. People need to change or people need to be changed. Life- long loyalty cannot be rewarded positionally unless there is a willingness and an ability to change.

We have always done it that way should be a dismissible offence and change is the only constant for clubs to evolve. One can argue that clubs that regularly change managers are better at altering practices as there is a less engrained way of work and have faced change in their jobs on one or more occasion. For life employees (from the Vendors to the Boardroom) at clubs with long serving management change is more difficult and is made even more so by the success of the respective clubs in Manchester and London.

Some questions need to be asked and a hard look taken to address and arrest the fall from the pinnacle these clubs currently face.

  • Are parts of the club hankering after a bygone era and unwilling or unable to change?
  • How far are clubs prepared to go to back new management teams?
  • Do clubs realign strategy to support the manager from top to bottom?

Important Points

  • Some of this seems ruthless and impersonal, you are right it is. There does remain an important role to ensure that the entire organization is ready for change at the drop of a hat and that in it self would help these clubs recover faster.
  • The difference between Manchester United and Arsenal is that Sir Alex left on the ultimate high while Arsene Wenger’s popularity had started to wane. Both are now feeling the pinch from fans and shareholders that demand success.
  • If the guy who cuts the grass has not changed the way he cuts the grass in alignment with the managers wishes, change the grass cutter not the manager. It cannot be the Arsenal way or Man Utd way it has to be the managers way and then you can truly hold the guy accountable as he is responsible.
  • Crocodiles have learnt to adapt and survive and every organization has them (unfortunately). The art for any business is to get those self-same Crocodiles to function in a new landscape and play an active role in the new business ecosystem. (Some will call this buy-in!)
  • When Sir Alex, and Arsene left their respective clubs the void was greater than replacing a manager, it landed up being about redefining an organization without destroying great history! This work is still very much in progress.

This is the challenge for these clubs. If all that is required is embraced by the clubs the return to success will come, if there is reluctance, rebellion and a lack of cohesive vision……Good Luck!!!!

(Ian Turner is an out of the box thinker, being different is not a problem for him and is a creative solution seeker. He is almost certain that as a Spurs fan neither of the above clubs would engage his services).

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