Manchester United moving towards Bayern template

Posted by Mark Payne

Losing the longest-serving manager in British football was always going to prove a wrench for the Premier League champions, but the club's actions over the summer suggest there is a clear blueprint for the future. This week's announcement that Ryan Giggs is to coach Manchester United's first team, and the arrival of Phil Neville to the coaching team too, provide insight into the club's long-term strategy.

During his final years at the club, Sir Alex Ferguson often cast covetous glances at Bayern Munich and the structure the German club has adopted. In most of the key, non-playing positions, they have recruited men who served the club with distinction on the field. In doing this, they have imbued the entire organisation with a clear focus on the team's success. At the time of writing, they are European champions, treble winners and have strengthened since they collected those trophies, not least in appointing Pep Guardiola as manager.

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Ferguson, Bobby Charlton and David Gill have been trying to create a similar atmosphere at Old Trafford for the past decade and the club are now very active in utilising former playing staff. There is a fleet of club ambassadors, such as Bryan Robson, Dwight Yorke, and now Ferguson himself. Paddy Crerand and Denis Irwin do a lot of work for MUTV, and Brian McClair is director of Manchester United's youth academy.

These latest appointments by David Moyes follow that lead. They are designed to keep things fresh while also maintaining consistency. Giggs' credentials as a footballer need no introduction, and Neville comes from one of the most impressive sporting families in English history. His brother is the finest right back England have ever had and his twin sister represents England for netball.

Giggs and Neville are not only United men, but also highly driven individuals. It is difficult to see anybody slacking off or behaving with dissent with either of those two in front of them. It would just be embarrassing. Any worries about the departures of Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele are already dissipating.

The fear when Ferguson announced his retirement was that with the end of his era would come the end of the glory. That United fans would not enjoy the same levels of success after his departure. The dynasty he leaves, though, is one that is forward-thinking. Manchester United are intent on proving that Ferguson's reign was a glorious chapter in their history, not the pinnacle. By continuing his success, the club will be paying him the ultimate tribute.

There are countless stories in modern football of clubs trying to make enormous gains in a short time and coming unstuck. QPR were relegated last year trying to follow such a model, and Leeds United have fallen completely off the map.

In contrast, Bayern Munich's on-the-field success is matched by their off-field triumphs. Unlike most European clubs, they post a self-generated profit annually and have actually increased their revenues each year for the last eight. What global recession?

Similarly, the other great side of recent years was borne of long-term strategy and tenacity when the going got tough. Barcelona's tiki-taka dominance was not a Leo Messi-inspired fluke. It was the result of a philosophy brought from the youth team through to the first team with a combination of hard work and diligence. These are the qualities that are needed to create a dynasty.

It is inevitable that hard questions will be asked of Moyes and the new team in the early months of his tenure. The key for fans and staff alike will be to keep the faith and not succumb to gut reactions. The worst thing United could do would be to pander to the short term and lose sight of their overarching goal - to become the dominant team in Europe, playing attacking football with young players.

Moyes has so far shown himself shrewd enough to appoint his own staff, but also make sure that those men are fully aware of the intricacies of the club they are serving. Bayern Munich's current position is the culmination of a long-term strategy and years of hard work. United are working towards a similar end, and Neville and Giggs are very much a part of that.

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