Management lessons

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Updated: Nov 25 2012, 07:28am hrs
Problem with nouveau-riche football clubs is that they demand instant gratification. But football is a little different from operations in the stock market

Big money doesnt a big club make. An assembly of assorted stars doesnt make a champion team. Manchester Citys demise in Europe for the second year running tells a story. Sheikh Mansour has invested one billion pounds into the club over the last two years. City won the Premier League last seasona title that came after 44 years. But they are learning the hard way that Champions League is a different proposition altogether.

As long as they are not becoming a European elite, Mansour's billion pounds will continue to be seen as bad investment. The owner would become increasingly impatient and the manager will continue to skate on thin ice. Citys owner is not as ruthless as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, otherwise Roberto Mancini might have lost his job on the night when his team was taught a footballing lesson by Frank de Boer's excellent Ajax.

Patience, however, can thin fast in modern football. Yet City have to be patient. Two years might be long enough to win the Premier League or an odd title, but time is needed to win the Champions League. More importantly, if City want to become a club to be respected and revered by all, then they must embrace a particular football philosophy, rather than just spending big and trying to buy success.

For a club to become an institution it needs to be greater than just sum of its parts. Stability must be there at its core. Sir Matt Busby had ruled Old Trafford for 25 years and Sir Alex Ferguson has been ruling the place for 26 years. Success didn't come easy to them. In fact, to start with, they were not very concerned about winning trophies. They wanted to build a team, knowing full well that titles will take care of themselves.

Manchester United spent much of the 1990s, preparing for the triumph of the Camp Nou in 1999. Stability and a positive outlook for the future were the main reasons behind Liverpool's success under Bill Shankly. Arsenal too have followed a similar line of thinking, though unlike United or Liverpool they are yet to win the worlds biggest club competition. It is unlikely that the Gunners will win it in the near future, given the way the board has decided to function in terms of spending at the transfer market. But the club didn't lose their fans just because they didn't win anything for six years. No one has questioned Arsene Wenger's authority despite recent reverses. Wenger has made Arsenal a global brand and taught the fans and members of the board to be patient.

Does Mansour have that patience It's not that the billionaire from Abu Dhabi doesnt care about the game. No one spends 100 million pounds for a state-of-the-art new training ground and academy if he doesnt have a vision for the future. At the same time there is a strong feeling at Etihad that the owner is a man in hurry, which makes things a bit uncertain. Little wonder that the atmosphere gets tensed at times and the likes of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli hog the limelight for wrong reasons. Occasionally Mancini too loses his composure, giving an impression that he has been working under a lot of pressure . If we think we can win a Champions League after two years we are crazy, Mancini defended his team after the European exit. It took Chelsea 10 years and they didnt win it in their best year, he added, referring to the Blues triumph last season. The Italian insisted that he shared a very good rapport with the owner and didnt have the fear of losing his job.

But is Mancini the right man to take the team forward This season showed that Mansours investment demanded more than Mancinis poor preparation and planning for the Champions League. This time they fared worse than the last season with just three points from five matches. True that they were placed in the group of death with giants like Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax breathing down their neck. But Mancini never really allowed the team to settle, chopping and changing continuously and tinkering with the formation. Micah Richards was too annoyed to keep his counsel after the game against Dortmund and publicly criticised Mancinis three-back system. Against top managers like Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp, and also de Boer, Mancinis tactical short-comings were exposed. The moves which looked excellent against the relatively weaker teams in the Premier League, turned out to be calamitous against the superior opponents. Rather than progressing, City regressed. Mancini will never be rated as a top manager until he wins in the continent. He failed to convert Inter Milan from Italian champions to European powerhouse, and here at City also he is struggling to take the team to next level.

Still, Mancini deserves time. He has top players like Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Tevez, David Silva, Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany at his disposal. Now he must build a team with them. The common perception is that City's big stars are all mercenaries, ready to leave with the next big offer. The blue half of Manchester doesn't have any Scholes, Giggs or Neville. Problem with the nouveau-riche is that they demand instant gratification. But football is a little different from the operations in stock market. Clubs like City and Chelsea aspire to play like Barcelona just because they have the spending power. At Stamford Bridge, Abramovich is always happy to play the game of Russian roulette and gives a damn about who is thinking what. At Etihad, the City management can follow him. Or they can follow a legend. From United's noisy neighbours City have risen to become one of the big forces to reckon with in English football. They must follow Ferguson's United for bigger success.