Manchester United are going through their most barren spell since the early years of Sir Alex Ferguson and have attempted a series of strategies to bring back the glory days. Since Ferguson’s successor David Moyes left, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer have al been unable to do so, with Erik ten Hag the latest to take on such a challenge. He will however have the spirit of Ferguson’s sides if Steve McClaren gets his way though.
The former England manager has returned to Old Trafford as part of the coaching staff ahead of the new season, following his last position with Queens Park Rangers in 2019. McClaren was of course part of Ferguson’s coaching too, before embarking on his own managerial journey.
Speaking on the his son Josh McClaren’s podcast ‘McClaren Performance’, Steve revealed that he had a plan to reinstall the winning mentality in the dressing room, as per ESPN.
The plan runs through three crucial tenets, the first of which is ensuring that the dressing is a safe space. Being able to count on total openness inside the player’s sanctuary is of vital importance according to McClaren.
The second stage is making sure that players are able to be vulnerable with each other. The atmosphere of fear, blame and reprisals which has plagued United in recent seasons has eroded confidence at the club. If players can share bad experiences and empathise with the human side of each player, it should aid a change of mood according to McClaren.
The final part of his master plan is to create a shared purpose at the club. If everyone if pulling in the same direction as part of their personal goals, it will help the squad reach their targets personally and collectively.
“Everybody has to have a purpose.,” McClaren said.
“Finding the ‘why?’ is especially important. It’s the start of it all. ‘Why are you playing at [Manchester United]? What do you want to achieve? Why do you want to achieve that? What is your legacy? What do you want to leave here?”
All of these issues do sound like problems that have not yet been fixed at United, based on the evidence provided on the pitch last season. If McClaren and ten Hag can create a happier Manchester United, that will be half the battle. As is always the case in any job however, it is easier said than done.