Case Study – Glory, Glory Man United!

Introduction: Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. With a huge following and a global appeal, football has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The English Premier League is one of the most popular football leagues in the world, attracting fans from all over the globe. Manchester United, also known as the Red Devils, is one of the most successful clubs in the English Premier League. This case study explores the success of Manchester United and how it became one of the most valuable football clubs in the world.
Background: Manchester United was founded in 1878 as the Newton Heath LYR Football Club. The club was originally formed by railway workers who wanted to play football. In 1902, the club was renamed Manchester United and started playing in the English First Division. Manchester United became a dominant force in English football in the 1960s under the management of Matt Busby. During this time, Manchester United won two English league titles and the European Cup. However, tragedy struck the club in 1958 when a plane carrying the team crashed in Munich, killing 23 people, including eight players.
In the 1980s, Manchester United experienced a period of decline, but the arrival of Alex Ferguson in 1986 changed the club’s fortunes. Under Ferguson’s leadership, Manchester United became the dominant force in English football, winning 13 English league titles, five FA Cups, and two European Cups. Ferguson retired in 2013, but Manchester United has continued to be one of the most valuable football clubs in the world.
Key Success Factors: There are several key success factors that have contributed to Manchester United’s success.
1. Strong Leadership: Manchester United has had strong leadership throughout its history. Matt Busby and Alex Ferguson are two of the most successful managers in English football history. They both had a clear vision for the club and were able to implement their vision successfully.
2. Strong Brand: Manchester United is one of the most recognized football clubs in the world. The club has a strong brand and has been able to capitalize on its popularity to generate significant revenue from merchandise sales, sponsorships, and broadcasting rights.
3. Investment in Players: Manchester United has a long history of investing in top-quality players. The club has a reputation for attracting the best talent from around the world and has been able to build successful teams by investing in top players.
4. Fan Base: Manchester United has a large and loyal fan base. The club has fans all over the world, and its popularity has helped to generate significant revenue from merchandise sales and ticket sales.
5. Culture of Success: Manchester United has a culture of success. The club has a winning mentality and expects to win every game it plays. This culture has been instilled in the club’s players and managers and has been a key factor in the club’s success.
Challenges Faced: Despite its success, Manchester United has faced several challenges over the years.
1. Financial Challenges: Manchester United has faced financial challenges in recent years. The club has struggled to compete with other top football clubs in terms of player salaries and transfer fees, which has made it difficult to attract top talent.
2. Management Issues: Manchester United has had some management issues in recent years. Since the retirement of Alex Ferguson in 2013, the club has gone through several managers, with limited success. This instability at the managerial level has been a challenge for the club.
3. Competition: Manchester United faces stiff competition from other top football clubs in the English Premier League and around the world. This competition has made it difficult for the club to maintain its dominance in English football.
4. Fan Expectations: Manchester United has a large and passionate fan base, and expectations are high. The club’s fans expect the team to win every game, and any loss or poor

As Manchester United continued to dominate the English Premier League and make strides towards becoming one of the biggest sports brands in the world, the Glazer family continued to face scrutiny over their management of the club. In 2019, a group of fans launched a campaign under the hashtag #GlazersOut, demanding that the family sell the club due to their perceived lack of investment and understanding of the club’s values.
The controversy over the Glazers’ ownership of Manchester United highlights the complex and sometimes fraught relationship between sports teams and their owners. While fans often see their clubs as part of their identity and cultural heritage, owners may view them primarily as financial assets. As such, there is often a tension between the interests of fans and those of owners.
In the case of Manchester United, the Glazers’ ownership has been marked by controversy almost from the beginning. When they took over the club in 2005, they financed the acquisition through a significant amount of debt, leading to concerns about their long-term commitment to the club. In addition, fans have accused the Glazers of prioritizing profits over on-field success, leading to a decline in the team’s performance and reputation in recent years.
However, the Glazers have defended their ownership of the club, citing their investment in infrastructure and facilities as evidence of their long-term commitment. They have also emphasized the importance of balancing financial stability with on-field success, arguing that the two are not mutually exclusive.
Despite the controversy surrounding their ownership, Manchester United remains one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, with a global fan base and a rich history of success. As such, the Glazers’ management of the club is likely to continue to be the subject of intense scrutiny and debate, both within the club and among fans and observers around the world.
Overall, the case of Manchester United and the Glazers highlights the challenges and complexities of sports ownership, particularly in the modern era of globalized sports brands and multimillion-dollar deals. While the interests of owners and fans may not always align, it is clear that successful sports franchises require a delicate balance between financial stability, on-field success, and a strong connection with their communities and supporters.

One of the major challenges for Manchester United in the post-Ferguson era was to find a suitable replacement for the legendary manager. After a difficult period with David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, United hired José Mourinho as their new manager in 2016. Mourinho had a successful track record of winning league titles in different countries, including Portugal, England, Italy, and Spain. However, his tenure at United was controversial, with reports of clashes with players and staff, as well as a perceived negative style of play. Despite winning the Europa League and League Cup in his first season, Mourinho’s second season saw United finish in second place, which was seen as a relative success, but the team struggled in the following season and he was eventually sacked in December 2018.
After Mourinho’s departure, United appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjær as the interim manager, initially for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. Solskjær was a former United player and had previously managed the Norwegian team Molde. His appointment was seen as a temporary measure, but he had an immediate impact, winning his first eight games in charge. Under Solskjær, United played with a more attacking style and were praised for their performances, particularly in the Champions League, where they achieved a historic comeback victory against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16. Solskjær’s positive start led to his appointment as the permanent manager in March 2019.
Despite the promising start, Solskjær’s first full season in charge was disappointing, with United finishing in sixth place, outside of the Champions League places. The team also suffered early exits from both the Carabao Cup and the Europa League. However, there were signs of progress, particularly in the team’s attacking play and the emergence of young players like Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood. In the following season, United finished in third place, securing a return to the Champions League, and reached the semi-finals of both the Carabao Cup and the Europa League. Solskjær’s management style and emphasis on youth development were praised, as well as his ability to improve the team’s fitness and mentality.
As of the 2021-22 season, Solskjær is still the manager of Manchester United, and there are signs of further progress, with the team finishing as runners-up in the Premier League and reaching the final of the Europa League. Solskjær’s ability to balance the demands of playing attractive football while achieving results has been praised, as well as his willingness to give opportunities to young players and integrate them into the first team. However, there are still areas for improvement, particularly in terms of defensive solidity and consistency, which will be crucial for United to challenge for major honors in the future.
Conclusion: Overall, the case study of Manchester United’s managerial changes and the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjær highlights the importance of finding the right fit for a team’s culture and playing style. The success of a manager depends not only on their track record and tactical acumen, but also on their ability to connect with players, staff, and fans, and create a positive and inclusive environment. The case study also illustrates the challenges and complexities of managing a top football team, with high expectations and intense scrutiny from the media and fans. By learning from the successes and failures of previous managers, United has been able to build a strong foundation for future success, with a clear playing philosophy and a commitment to youth development.