The book “Built to Last” written by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras is about 18 most successful companies in the past 100 years. These great brands have two things in common: In their whole brand lifespan, they never change brand philosophy, and the core values remains consistently; their leaders always put the company name higher than any individual and higher than themselves.
The soccer world has felt lost by the recent retirement announcement of Sir Alex Ferguson who made Manchester United extraordinary success as a most valuable sport brand in the world . The farewell is inevitable but certainly evokes indescribable empty feelings.
Some may tragically think that no one could replace the blank left by Sir Alex. Accordingly, MU may no longer be the dominant of Premier League and lose its position in Champion League.
Sir Alex Ferguson does not think so and he has his own reasons.
During 26 years at the role of MU’s coaching manager, his philosophy is very consistent: no one can stay higher than Manchester United, and he is not an exception. This football club has nourished a number of great talents. However talented they are, they are only pieces of the big gorgeous picture MU. When these pieces no longer match (objectively or subjectively), they would be replaced by other better pieces. Big names like D. Beckham, R. Kean, V. Nisterooy or C. Ronaldo respectively left Old Trafford because of an only reason: for the continuous development and long living of United.
Many claim that Sir Alex is only one star that is irreplaceable in United. But he himself, Sir “hairdryer” – dictatorial but still romantic, dreamy but still practical, is the only one who doesn’t believe it.
Like great brains from world greatest brands mentioned in Jim Collin’s “Built to Last” book, Sir Alex understands that he is only a piece in the priceless Manchester United picture.
However, it is admitted that whether the next coach is the piece that is “big” enough to fill the blank left by the legend piece Alex Ferguson is still a big question.
It’s not manager that is clever enough to maintain the leading position of United (at least in Premier League). With current tradition and foundation, it is a difficult but not impossible mission.
It’s essential to maintain the intangible values of Red Evil – charming, strong and unique. Manchester United brand identity is made from these core values which stay the same from generations B. Charton, G. Best, E. Cantona, R. Giggs or W. Rooney now.
Next year, Man united could not achieve the 21st Premier League or the 4th Champion cup. Okay. But Post-Sir Alex Red Evil is not allowed to lose its image and core values. This extremely challenging task is just for brave, ambitious, talented and important person who shares the same philosophy with the great former coach.
At this time, the interest for the latter can not compared with the miss of the former.
From 2013 – 2014 season, the pitch line of Old Trafford will be very lonely due to the absence of familiar deliberate steps; home team section will be very silent due to the absence of a 71-year-old man who often has childish jumps whenever United scores; and the Theater of Dreams will be less poetic due to the absence of emotional moments from Sir Alex. There will be no more scenes of an old man accelerating his speed of chewing gum according to the match. No one can’t help bursting into emotion as remembering how his hands tremble when his team was powerless in the face of Barca in 2011. No one can forget how he quickly stood up, turned his assistant aside and run to the field to be against the red card for Nani in Champion League’s quarter-final 2012 – 2013 when United was defeated by Real Madrid.
Sir Alex is very aggressive and fond of surpassing others. He is absolutely proud of a series of cups earned by United. But it doesn’t mean that he only “fights” for cups. Even how significant the achievements are, it will finally go. Love is the only thing to stay forever. It is the limitless love and passion for soccer that makes the greatness of Sir Alex.
He decided to stop the challenging but inspiring adventure with United. However, we all know that the stop doesn’t mean the end, just like what Hotel California song says:
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave
Sir Alex has checked out the Theatre of Dreams. But deep inside his mind, he never leaves his immortal love for this land – every grass, every seat, every brick in the tunnel to the field. In the past 26 years. One day like everyday. Full love. Everything is still fresh as yesterday.
Yesterday, after publicly say goodbye to “big family” United, he burst into tears in front of players on Carrington field. Nothing can be compared with loving tears for the house where he has lived in the past 26 years.
Be emotional but not soft, he then calmly said about the future of United:
“The most important thing is that I left a frame that is as strong as possible and I believe that I’ve made my best efforts for the club. This is a world-class club where there is age balance, highest level of success continuity and inheritance of young players to create a sustainable future for MU.”
Yes, a sustainable future for United: Built to Last, which is not for him but Manchester United. That’s the message from a great person for a great club.
The next coach, have you ever heard of this message? Whoever you are, be ready for the extreme challenge and glory. Good luck!
Nguyen Duc Son
Richard Moore Associates