Management lessons

Nov 25 2012, 01:58 IST
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SummaryBig money doesn’t a big club make. An assembly of assorted stars doesn’t make a champion team.

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 doesn’t a big club make. An assembly of assorted stars doesn’t make a champion team. Manchester City’s 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 season—a 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. City’s 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 world’s 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

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