On May 26th 1999, the most legendary Champions League Final took place in Barcelona. 20 years ago, with 90 minutes played, the game was almost finished. Bayern Munich led with 1:0 against Manchester United. In minute 91, Sheringham scored 1:1 for Manchester United and in minute 94, Manchester scored 2:1 and won.
The goal scorer of the 2:1, the Norwegian player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, is a legend in Manchester. Today he is the Premier League manager of Manchester United and he has taken on the responsibility to bring the Club back to the times when they won Champions League and many other titles.
Let us take a look at what Solskjær did when he entered his new assignment: Whenever a new CEO starts a new assignment s/he has to start with a strategy assessment. An assessment of the current situation in different aspects to identify future opportunities and mid and long term changes. Whenever a new Premier League Manager is appointed, he has to do the exact same: a thorough analysis of the status quo to know where to start a process to guarantee short, mid and long-term success.
In December 2019, Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over Manchester United from José Mourinho. Although Solskjær knew the Club from his time as a player, he started his analysis and changed the things he could change on short notice. Manchester United won the first 10 games under Solskjær - maybe because he did not change anything dramatically, but gave the team some confidence and a clear idea of how to use their strengths.
By the end of the season, Manchester United missed the qualification for the Champions League. Solskjær sends his team into the summer break with individual fitness programs and he promises that he will sell every player who returns from holidays in bad shape. He had analysed that the team was not on the fitness level he requires to implement his idea of the game and how to play. During the season, there was hardly any chance to do something about it. Solskjær knew the shortfall from his assessment but only started to change it when he had a chance to succeed. At the start of his assignment, he might have known about the issue - but he only worked on the things he could influence on short notice.
According to our experience from many Executive Search assignments and onboarding programs, five elements have to be assessed at the start of an assignment:
We do not know if Solskjær analysed the situation in Manchester in exactly that way. But, he definitely had a thorough thought regarding the topics he could influence:
It looks like Solskjær is following his strategy with consequence. The latest news says that Manchester United is using the summer to look for very specific players to strengthen the team, to implement a new playing style and to respect the financial limits of the circumstances. Good luck Ole Gunnar – we Scandinavians would love to see you succeed on this assignment!