AS MANCHESTER United sack manager Jose Mourinho, Professor Simon Chadwick, Sport Enterprise expert at the University of Salford, explores the huge issues facing the club in the post Ferguson era.
Professor Chadwick said: “Jose Mourinho's sacking comes at a time when Manchester United is struggling to keep pace with its faster moving, more agile and increasingly successful rivals. As such, his dismissal is unsurprising though is something of a shock given the imminent Christmas programme.
“This suggests that United's board is either keen to address the obvious failings of a club currently competitively disadvantaged or that it has already lined-up a replacement. For Mourinho, his sacking marks a stark decline from the young coach who ran the length of the touchline when Porto defeated United in a Champions League game nearly fifteen years ago. Here is a coach for whom the constraints of pragmatism have finally been defeated by the principles, style and ability to adapt of younger coaching rivals.
“While Mourinho's record remains strong, his apparent problems with learning and changing are stark. Indeed, his tenure at United stands in contrast to Alex Ferguson, who repeatedly demonstrated a capacity to change. As the club contemplates yet another managerial change, it is to Ferguson that people will again look.
“The organisation has singularly failed to make the transition from one successful long-term manager to another. This raises all manner of issues pertaining to ownership motives, organisational culture, learning and development, and adaptiveness. United and its owners are clearly underperforming in these respects, hence Mourinho's dismissal provokes questions about where the Glazer family and its senior management team is taking the club.
“Already its competitive position on the field is a significant issue, though it is increasingly likely that its off-field commercial performance is going to suffer. The longer United fails to win the Premier League or the Champions League, the more likely it is that the off-field commercial and financial numbers will suffer.
“As such, the appointment of a new manager represents a huge decision for the Glazers; winning on and off the field are both important, hence the appointment of an incumbent promises to be an era defining one. Get in right, and United may be able to save a fragile reputation; get it wrong and the club is looking increasingly likely to fall back into the pack as the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool speed ahead. The question is: has United and its management team been learning its lessons and can the right changes be made?”