Keep your eye on the ball: Why businesses need reinvestment and how Manchester United illustrate this perfectly

Connor Pink, Head of Design at The Means Agency, explains why no matter what size your company is, you need to constantly reinvest. Otherwise your business could suffer like Manchester United did…


Manchester United became the biggest club in England through reinvestment

To demonstrate my analogy, I’m going to use five key points in the last 20 years of Manchester United’s history to show how you can be one of the biggest companies in the world, and still suffer from a lack of investment.

Our story begins almost twenty years ago, in the summer of 1999. United were on a massive high, having just completed a famous treble — the Champions League, Premier league and the FA Cup. This was only a result of constant reinvestment, not only on a board/ownership level but also on a client level.

By this point the team had built up a massive fan following packing out an 55,000 thousand-seater stadium every week and using this money to develop a world famous academy and buy some of the best talents available. This created a well balanced squad with the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Peter schmeichel, David Beckham and Paul Scholes.

This shows not only a good level of reinvestment, but reinvestment in the right areas. It proved that it worked, and not only with the treble of 1999. United went on to win the title in 2000 and 2001.


Sir Alex Ferguson and Ole Gunnar Solskjær with the treble of 1999

In September 2003, however, things started to go wrong. When Avram Glazer bought a controlling stake in Manchester United, the club was then burdened with his personal debt. Although the consequences didn’t come straight away, the problems of reinvestment came to emerge later. This is something we would never let happen to The Means, as we will always invest back into the company whether this is on a board level or on a client level.

Every time we work with a client we take great pride in producing the best return on investment.

For Manchester United, the signs of a lack of reinvestment became evident in the summer of 2009. United played an impressive attack and counter attack, won the Premier league title for a record-equalling 18th time, and reached the Champions league final. Then they sold their best player, Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a record £80 million pounds.

This wasn’t necessarily a problem, as your top player could be replaced if you reinvest correctly. However United didn’t do this, they made 85 million in transfers but only spent 21 million. Not only did they not invest enough money but the players they brought in were also not high enough in quality to fill the void.

Here at The Means we’d never sacrifice quality to cut costs , you’ll always get quality for your money, and the right person working on your project.


Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t even reached his peak when he left United for Real Madrid in 2009

In 2013, United’s squad was ageing and past their best. The lack of reinvestment meant that the squad wasn’t being refreshed and the academy was deteriorating.

The biggest sign of trouble was Paul Scholes having to come out of retirement to help keep everything together. Despite this working out, United had no future plan to cover for Sir Alex Ferguson retiring and to help refresh this ageing squad. The result was David Moyes being made the scapegoat for the lack investment after trying to complete mission impossible.

Fast-forward to the present day and things are looking good at United. Investment is starting to reappear and the squad is looking like it has the quality to win titles again. It took a lot to get there, like the investment in José Mourinho and a budget of 296 million to spend (which is a lot higher than the 56 million received on selling players).

All this was needed to bring in world class talents like Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku. Not only this, but Jose has kept the tradition of bringing through homegrown local academy players like Scott Mctominay and Angel Gomes. This is beneficial to any company.

Young people need an opportunity to grow and become the future but won’t do it without the leadership of an experienced head.


From left to right — Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba — Proof United are reinvesting again

This is something we pride ourselves on at The Means, having that perfect balance of youth and experience. We have me, the young apprentice that can also bring skills and experiences to the team — I’m The Means version of Marcus Rashford. Then we have Mic our CEO, and Emily our CMO to give us help whenever we need it and guide us to our full potential. They’re our Michael Carrick and José Mourinho.

Have a creative project and want some help reaching the goal? Shoot us a line on hello@themeans.rocksto find out how we can help you.