What Moyes can learn from housing comms

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As you walk through a storm….oh, wait, wrong song

Today’s post comes from Robert Doyle, Communications Officer at Helena Partnerships

If Manchester United were a housing association, how would they be doing?

Some of the stock is a bit old and there is need for development but as a club they appear in rude health.  According to accountants Deloitte’s they are the fourth richest in the world, bringing in £346million last season. They have countless happy, loyal tenants and have embraced the commercialisation that providers must do to thrive in a constantly shifting sector.

Unlike housing associations, however, United’s stock is built on sandy ground. Behind the boardroom door, some £71million of last year’s income was burned on simply financing the cost of the Glazer family’s Wonga-like takeover of the club. Another £48million went on repayments.

As financial fitness becomes ever more important in housing – and under FIFAs new fair play rules – such wasteful debt would be raising more than eyebrows over at the HCA. The spending of £27million on Marouane Fellaini  may also cause “concerns over governance”.

My big worry for Moyes and United, however, is not their finances but how quickly their reputation for invincibility is fading.

Certainly Moyes has suffered bad luck with injuries, decisions and so on. Such is football. However, as communication is my trade, I can’t help but offer Moyes some advice on one area where he is going badly wrong. He is losing the story and when you lose that you lose everything.

Whereas Sir Alex Ferguson plucked luck out of the air with self belief and, like Wonga, expected his players to give 5853% every game, Moyes already has the haunted look of a (whisper it) England manager.

The folded arms, the hang-dog expression, the outbursts of exasperation and rueful glances at the gods above. The faces of Graham Taylor, Kevin Keegan, Steve McLaren swirl around Wee Davey’s restless sleep, calling him like sirens to join the squad of the damned.

Even a kitchen-sink psychologist will tell you leadership is about fearless confidence and constant encouragement. While this starts in the dressing room and training field, games are also won and lost on the newspaper page and in front of the TV cameras.

There is nothing more powerful than the story. Fergie grasped this and grasped the narrative by the footballs. His story was that United are constantly under attack by cheats and fools and villains but as the “greatest” team in the land they must rise above this, never give up, fight to death, fight for themselves and for the millions who support them.

It’s the stories we tell, the stories we take within us, the stories others believe that make the difference. There must be a symbolic exorcism of Fergie’s ghost, new players, new tactics, a new story, a new chapter.

United will soon be back to frustrate their rivals. Juan Mata will surely shine

If Moyes doesn’t survive, however, there’s one crumb of comfort. At least he doesn’t have to contend with the bedroom tax or pay off the Glazers’ arrears.

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