Subscribe to the daily newsletter.

The Playbook: communications factor in Manchester United’s new chapter

“Clear, honest and direct communication” – James Donaldson on the importance of a communications strategy at Manchester United. Donaldson is a Manchester United fan for more than 40 years, a former sports journalist at DC Thomson and now runs Aberdeen-based Engage PR.

Devil embossed, red in colour and leatherbound – the most secret of tomes. It will be stored away under lock and key every night, even though the first page has barely been written.

The concept of a playbook is traditionally associated with meticulous strategies, research, left-field ideas and game plans; a concept that Manchester United, soon to be under the new leadership of CEO Omar Berrada, are likely to elevate to new heights.

The Manchester United Playbook for the Jim Ratcliffe era will be a comprehensive blueprint encompassing the club’s tactics, ambitions and timelines for implementation. 

The right principles clarify the decision-making process for all. Staff effortlessly align with the leader’s vision, obviating doubt and indecision; the wrong path and the result will be a complete Schneirderlin all over again.

Berrada’s approach at Manchester City, where he emphasised the importance of a football identity supported by a cohesive structure and clear strategy, is precisely what United need. A common cause, core values and key performance indicators are crucial for any successful enterprise, and United are no exception. However, those oh-so-wonderful corporate terms mean nothing if the mission is not understood or doesn’t resonate.

It’s not just about imparting information but also about listening, understanding different perspectives and adapting the message to suit the audience, whether it be players, coaches, staff, fans, the media or potential recruits.

A successful football club operates like a well-oiled machine, each part functioning in harmony with the others. So this Man U Magna Carta must outline detailed strategies for net gains, no matter how small, across all operational facets.

Clear, honest and direct communication will foster trust, commitment and maximum buy-in.

This is to ensure that every department, from the youth academy to the commercial team, is not only aware of the club’s overarching goals but is actively working towards them. Such a system ensures that the club’s commercial success is symbiotically linked with its on-field performance, bridging all existing gaps.

Identity formation will form another crucial chapter in The Playbook. Manchester United’s brand is more than just its playing style; it’s a blend of its storied history, its values and its role within the community. Even players, fickle as they are, are human beings and will want to be part of this movement, or tribe, if it’s a winning formula.

This manual will likely detail how this identity should be nurtured and manifested, both on the field and off it. This includes not just maintaining the club’s rich legacy but also adapting and integrating modern football philosophies and technologies. It’s about striking a balance between tradition – Sir Alex can continue to be called upon for advice – and today’s innovations.

Technological integration, especially the strategic incorporation of AI and data analytics, will feature prominently in this new doctrine. These tools will be used to magnify and enhance player performance as well as tactical adaptability. They will underpin scouting, player development and injury prevention strategies.

A significant portion of the masterplan will be dedicated to the youth academy. Here, the focus will be on integrating home-grown and international talents into the first team, on outlining a smart approach to building a sustainable and competitive squad. 

This speaks to the soul of Manchester United.

The Playbook will be a comprehensive and compelling reference document; the glue that holds everything together. It will serve as a testament to the club’s renewed focus on becoming a more integrated, communicative and strategically aligned organisation: one that thrives on a seamless flow of information and ideas.

With its detailed strategies, timelines and the need to communicate, prioritise and deliver, this will be the Manchester United roadmap to reclaiming its position at the pinnacle of both English and European football. The unpredictable nature of football means this manifesto will constantly evolve. Adaptability is everything, ensuring Manchester United stay agile and responsive to changes in the game’s dynamic landscape.

Just for a moment let us imagine a time when ‘The Playbook: The Return of Manchester United’ by Omar Berrada graces bookshelves, encapsulating the blueprint of a united vision and the framework for countless decisions, both big and small, to be collaboratively taken by the collective wisdom of the many, not just a select few. One can but dream. From my point of view, let’s hope everyone is on the same page soon.

Subscribe to the Prolific North Daily Newsletter Today!

Want all the latest content from Prolific North delivered direct to your inbox daily? Of course you do!

Related News