Manchester United and Jose Mourinho perfect commercial fit

Old Trafford - Manchester United Newly appointed Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, and the club’s similar commercial objectives can help bring on-field success.

Sir Alex Ferguson was a key part of the Red’s global brand development but his successor David Moyes was not prepared for the club’s endorsement pressures. Even experienced Dutchman Louis van Gaal said he needed to “adapt” to the commercial responsibilities during his first pre-season tour with United in 2014.

Mourinho however, is much more involved in the commercial side of the game. From his time at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid the Portuguese has immersed himself in football marketing. His success, history of managing top clubs, will to win, straight talking and big personality have made him a worldwide star. Alongside his super agent Jorge Mendes, Mourinho has it all to be commercially successful and he is.

The hiring of the 53-year-old was delayed by potential conflicts of interest between a series of personal endorsement deals and United’s own commercial partnerships. It also emerged that Chelsea still owned Mourinho’s name as a trademark which had to be resolved. This just demonstrates how key the commercial aspect of the appointment was for both club and manager.

It appears the former Chelsea manager is eager to take on further commercial responsibilities in his new role at Old Trafford. Mourinho joined Instagram, complete with ‘JM’ logo profile picture, on the day his appointment was announced. This has given him a platform to communicate with the Red Devil’s huge fan base, whilst expanding into the social media market.

Manchester United Football Club, Old Trafford, The Theatre Of Dreams

A post shared by Jose Mourinho (@josemourinho) on

It was recently revealed The Special One is set to play Pope Francis in the upcoming movie Fe, English for Faith. He will voice the part in Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. The fact the two-time Champions League winner is fluent in a range of languages contributes further to his global endorsement appeal. Mourinho also voiced the teaser trailer for EA Sports’ upcoming computer football game FIFA 17. It is apparent the new United boss is the blockbuster manager when it comes to football advertisement.

As Mourinho starts work in Manchester, he is ready to extend his own endorsement assignments at probably the most commercial club in the world. Phil Townsend, the Director of Communications at Old Trafford, in 2012 explained to me how much that area has developed at the club. With vast sponsorship deals, it is clear just how important marketing revenue is for the Reds. For the previous two managers at Old Trafford the commercial aspect was a burden but for Mourinho, it will surely be welcomed.

As Jose Mourinho looks to return Manchester United back to the top on the field, he can seamlessly manage the extra responsibilities off it.


Manchester United’s FA Cup win huge for young squad

Manchester United’s FA Cup win this season is a huge hurdle its young squad has overcome.

The Reds beat Crystal Palace 2-1 after extra time at Wembley to claim their first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. For the majority of the United’s young players, it has been their first season in the senior squad and early success will be huge for their development. A total of 10 players under the age of 25 have made their debut this season alone (including new signings). Although many of the academy graduates have won things at youth level, nothing can compare to senior success.

The famous class of 92 won two Premier League titles and an FA Cup in their first two seasons before going on to help the club achieve one of its most successful periods to date. Early success can only further strengthen a team’s spirit and helps overall squad growth. This season’s cup triumph also helps to end any talk of a baron trophyless run after three years without a title. It prevents pressure mounting regarding when a first senior winners’ medal for many of the squad will come.

As well as providing a huge confidence boost and belief for the squad, it also gives the players a taste of success which can only fuel their desire for more. Under Ferguson, a title-winning season would usually lead to further success the following season. This has become part of the club’s DNA, whilst continuing in the traditions and exceptions. The younger players can only grow having met these expectations to a certain extent while success also endears younger players further to fans.

Back in 2011, I wrote an article about there being a bright, young future at Old Trafford after a number of young players were either signed or promoted to the first team. That side went onto to win a Premier League title, following missing out on goal difference the previous year. Coming from two goals down at Wembley to win the Community Shield 3-2 against Manchester City had an invaluable effect on the newly formed squad’s resolve.

As Jose Mourinho takes over at Old Trafford next season, he can surely not ignore the club’s promising youth at his disposal – especially after winning the FA Cup. Louis van Gaal has followed in the club’s philosophy of promoting youth and hopefully this squad can continue to progress. Although much of United’s young side are yet to experience the success of winning the Premier League, this victory will only help with future title pursuits.

U21s – Manchester United 4-1 Bolton Wanderers

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Manchester United in action against Bolton
Manchester United fought back from a goal down against Bolton Wanderers to finish comfortable 4-1 winners in the Under-21 Premier League.

Will Keane marked his return from long term injury to score the equaliser – following a Conor Wilkinson opener for the visitors – just before half time. The Reds were much improved in the second half with a goal from Tom Thorpe and two from Jesse Lingard.

Bolton started brightly and almost went ahead when Jan Gregus’ free-kick clipped the bar. Soon after United conceded a penalty when Ben Amos brought down Tom Youngs in the penalty area. With the same two players involved, the Reds’ keeper made up for his error with a fantastic save to his left denying Youngs.

The Lancashire side took the lead when Wilkinson finished with a left-footed driving effort. Will Keane netted the equaliser after Larnell Cole’s effort on goal from a corner hit Lingard and fell kindly for Keane who smashed the ball home.

The hosts doubled their tally when Lingard delivered a side-footed effort, from a Tyler Blackett cut-back, past Jay Lynch in the Wanderers goal. Adnan Januzaj, who made his Premier League debut for the first team at the weekend, put in another impressive display in front of David Moyes, and it was the Belgians free-kick which Thorpe headed home for the third goal.

The scoring was complete when Lingard won the ball inside the opposition half and impressively went alone, finishing with a low drive past the keeper for his second of the night.

With six points from three games for Michael Joyce’s side, tonight’s win moves them up to eighth in The Barclays Under-21 Premier League a point off Wolves and Arsenal.

Barclays Premier League Under-21, top 10


Barclays U21 Premier League: Competition format explained

U21s – Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur

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Manchester United host Tottenham Hotpur
Manchester United narrowly overcame league-leaders Tottenham in a 1-0 victory on the Reds’ debut at the Salford City Stadium in the Under-21 Premier League.

Ryan Tunnicliffe scored the only goal after 56 minutes, in a game free for supporters. Sir Alex Ferguson watched from the stands and would have been pleased to have seen the young side limit Spurs to few clear cut chances. The London side’s best effort came from a Christian Ceballos free-kick which clipped the top of the bar in the second-half. Warren Joyce’s side can take huge positives from their evening’s display, with goalscorer Tunnicliffe, Adnan Januzaj and Jesse Lingard all looking particularly impressive in a well organised United side.

A power cut late in the first-half caused a floodlights outage but after a brief pause in play and consultation, the final five minutes of the half were completed without the need for artificial light.20130415-111300 PM.jpg

Last season’s Premier Reserve League North winners have now kept a clean sheet in seven of their last eight games and move above Liverpool into second place, five points behind tonight’s opponents, with a game in hand.

Manchester United’s under-21 side now await a clash with Liverpool which was due to be played at Old Trafford on Friday but has been postponed after the Merseyside club’s involvement in the FA Youth Cup.

Barclays Premier League Under-21, top 8


Barclays U21 Premier League: Competition format explained

Manchester United’s Director of Communications Phil Townsend talks Reds off the pitch

Manchester United Director of Communications Phil Townsend believes the rivalry between United and City is a “good thing” for the Premier League.

The Manchester rivalry has intensified in recent years, and after Manchester City overcame their neighbours to win the Premier League in an emphatic late comeback on the final day, this sets up the most enthralling bout yet between the two sides next season.

Townsend believes the competition between the top teams is a positive advert for the league in general.

“The fact that it’s a more exciting and a closer product than the Spanish or Italian League, it’s a major part in its popularity and value to television companies around the world, ” he said. “I think it is a good thing for the Premier League as a whole, there are several teams now who are capable of winning the league.”

The Red’s Director of Communications believes the club has become more proactive on the commercial side since he arrived. After the club recently announced followers of 659 million across the world, he spoke about how it has become easier to communicate with such a large fan base.

“The mobile partners that we have in 45 countries, allow you to literally bring the team and action to the palm of someone’s hand as people obviously carry mobile phones around. Through that, it’s possible to speak directly to supporters.”

The Old Trafford board member made it clear, ahead of next season’s pre-season tour, how not only is a global fan base important but also local supporters. Last year’s ‘Champions 19 Tour’ visited places across the world but also to the local community.

“What is also important is the Manchester legs of the tour, so it went to schools in Stretford, Urmston, Flixton and places like that. There was never an ignoring of the local fan base. It was a global thing but very much for the whole Manchester United family.”

Old Trafford
Old Trafford

Townsend, who has been at the club for eight and half seasons, reiterated how important Old Trafford is to the club.

“Old Trafford is one of the key assets of the club. The centenary celebrations that we had in 2010 were reflective of the value everybody sees in Old Trafford, you wouldn’t want to change it. You go to say the Emirates Stadium, the concourses are larger, the seats are probably bigger but for me, it doesn’t have the feel of Old Trafford.”

Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated 25 years in charge of Manchester United last season and the club dedicated this achievement by changing the name of the ‘North Stand’ to the ‘Sir Alex Ferguson Stand’. Townsend, who was studying his A-Levels when Sir Alex took charge, said it was completed with great secrecy with only a few people knowing about the change.

Sir Alex Ferguson during the new stand name unveiling

“It was David Gill’s idea and he drew people in as and when necessary. We were able to source a company, the company was never told in what order the letters would be appearing. They were just sent a random array of letters,” he explains.

“They assembled them in blocks of three, those blocks were erected in a certain order and the guys putting them up didn’t know. Whilst they were putting it up it was covered so the CCTV cameras in the stadium couldn’t pick it up and see it.

“I think the fact the manager didn’t know was, firstly astonishing but also added to the sense of occasion on the day as he was staggered by what he was seeing.

“I think it achieved everything we wanted it to, we probably kept that more quiet than Paul Scholes’s return in January, because even his team-mates didn’t know. So it shows even in football you can keep secrets from people some of the time.”

The planned Sir Alex Ferguson statue is on course to be up by November time.

“The plan for that will probably be for in or around the 26th anniversary to unveil that. It will be like, in terms of size and feel, the Sir Matt Busby statue and will be outside the Sir Alex Ferguson stand,” Townsend explains.

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An Interview with Alan Keegan ‘the Voice of Old Trafford’

Alan Keegan with Dennis Law

Alan Keegan has been the stadium announcer at Manchester United for over 10 years and has seen many changes at the club in that time.

I recently sat down with ‘the Voice of Old Trafford’ halfway through the 2011/12 season, which is his thirteenth with the Reds.

  • How did you become involved with Manchester United?

I’ve always been interested in sport on the whole, specifically Manchester United and football. If we’re looking at a pathway, when I was younger I did a lot of radio work and in the early days I worked for Manchester City and specifically their Junior Blues. It was a case of getting involved with a sport that I loved and the fact that I supported Manchester United was irrelevant at that time. I was just pleased to be involved with a football club; it didn’t matter if it was Backstreet Wonders as long as it was somebody I could just involve myself with. As a result of work with City’s Junior Blues I stepped in for James H.

Reeve, who was a prominent broadcaster in the Manchester area at the time. He used to host the Junior Blues once a month during the season for nine months and coming up to Christmas he dropped out as he had other things on his agenda. I got asked, to cut a long story short, two people recommended me and I ended up doing it for Ian Niven who was the chairman of the Junior Blues at the time and I was a bit concerned as I was a Man United fan. But I made it clear to him that I would be professional.

Then one thing let to another, where I remained at City for a number of years, and then they asked me to do the warm up on the pitch for the main announcer which I willingly did. It was a great step up for me and really boosted my confidence because I was talking in front of, at the time I think City’s capacity at Maine Road was 38,000 and it was packed every week. That was good training for me and their announcer left and I got his job, so it was over a period of years and I was always professional at Manchester City.

At the end of the day I had a great time at City, it was a fantastic stepping-stone for me and I was very grateful for the break. As a result of that I started working at Manchester United in corporate hospitality hosting their rooms. Then the Man United announcer at the time was leaving and United found out that the guy who did City was a United fan, maybe we should interview him and the rest is history. I got the job at the club that I love.

  • You’ve been at Manchester United now for over ten years, how has your job changed in that time?

It’s changed quite a lot actually as the part of the stadium announcer’s pre-match build up is now aimed at the commercial side and the sponsorship because nearly every match is sponsored by one of the companies at the club. For example one match it maybe Nike, the next it could be AON or Audi so there’s a lot of engagement with the sponsors at Old Trafford and partially with presentations. So over the years, what were just general announcements about the club and tickets, which we still do, it now has a bigger impact with the sponsorship side both pre-match and at half time. You’ll have a half time activity which might be a penalty shoot-out or it might just be a presentation so the role has changed considerably.

My role has also changed because I do a lot of events outside of the match days now as an announcer role. For example in the summer I went on tour with the team for the three weeks to America with my role being very much engaged with hosting the corporate events with the sponsors. DHL came on board and they had a lot of activity, especially during half time for the first three games, so there’s a lot of interaction and activity which I’m involved in.

  • Do you have any interesting stories from your time at Manchester United which you can tell?

Well there’s always interesting stories when you work in the public domain, and you’re doing an announcing job there’s always going to be situations which occur that are always funny on the back of a mishap, and there’s been many of them. I’ve had quite a few mishaps in the last ten years but you’re experience takes you through. There’s been a few funny stories, for example, Teddy Sheringham came back to the club when he was playing for Spurs, he was substituted and due to force of habit he went to go into the United dugout and as I stand next to the dugout on a match day, I just gave him the nod and said Teddy you’re over there. The lads were saying you should have let him come up, it would have been even funnier and maybe I should have as it would have bee very funny.

Then you’ve got the scenario, because of where I’m positioned on a match- day, when Arsene Wenger kicked the water bottle and the referee sent him to the stands. He ended up going on to the presentation platform and it we had this glorious picture of him with his arms out. So there’s all those funny situations, Sir Alex is brilliant when you do any events with him, he’s absolutely fantastic. He’s such a fan of the club, I know he’s the manager but he’s a fan as well which comes across and what he doesn’t know about United’s not worth talking about.

Arsene Wenger stands in front of the Old Trafford crowd
  • You’ve been described as ‘the Voice of Old Trafford’, how does it feel to be associated with a ground which boasts over a hundred years of history and with Manchester United?

It’s an honour, a privilege. It’s absolutely fantastic because I’m Manchester born and bred. I consider it a privilege to be called ‘the Voice of Old Trafford’, they did a day in the life of me a number of years ago on DVD and the section was called ‘the Voice of Old Trafford’ and it’s sort of stuck. It’s brilliant, I love it, I’m a Manchester United fan and I celebrate like a fan when we score a goal, really there should be a bit of me which is impartial because of where I am but I can’t help it.

I never ever bore of what I do, every match day’s different. It’s just a dream come true, it’s the ultimate dream job. I love the fact I’ve had some great times in the time I’ve been the announcer as a supporter of United as I remember when we got relegated and the Tommy Docherty era where Stevie Coppell and Gordon Hill . Two wingers playing great football and winning promotion but like I say it’s a dream job.

  • You spoke about Sir Alex Ferguson, what are your opinions of the United manager who recently turned 70-years-old and what he’s achieved, and still achieving in his career?

Unbelievable. His energy, his enthusiasm. I’ve been fortunate enough, like I say, to have worked at the club for thirteen seasons and had a lot of interaction with Sir Alex because you’re doing presentations with him, you’re doing the corporate events and it never ceases to amaze me, his energy. I think that’s the ultimate compliment I can give him; he’s always energised and very active in the club, and proactive with what he wants to achieve. I think the beauty of Sir Alex is he’s the leader, he’s the man that we follow and you know at the end of the day, he’s 70-years-old but he certainly doesn’t look it in my opinion and doesn’t act like it.

I think that the team and the club but particularly the team, the way he’s rebuilt it over the years, they keep him youthful. I think he’s had to change as the years have developed and he’s moved with the changes, that’s the key to his success. If you think back to when he first joined, the main basis of the team was British players, as such and over time you’ve got the foreign input of players and he’s gone with those changes and adapted. He’s just absolutely fantastic and long may it continue.

Sir Alex Ferguson
  • What are your opinions on the current title race which appears to be between your former employees Manchester City and United?

It’s fantastic for Manchester overall, at the end of the day it’s about us being the capital of football if you like. It’s interesting that it is City because we’ve always had challenges if it be Blackburn with the money that Jack Walker brought in, whether it’s Arsenal, Chelsea with the Roman Abramovich money and we now have another challenge, Man City and Sheikh Mansour’s money. So that challenge will always be there and I think that’s another element which keeps Sir Alex going and motivated because everything’s a challenge.

Obviously with we had the two Champions League finals which we lost to Barcelona but the beauty of Sir Alex is he always goes back and rises to the challenge and I think that’s what City has brought to the table. It’s an interesting time at the moment because of the next six games which the two clubs have, it appears City have the easier matches. We’ve [Manchester United] got a testing time ahead with our schedule, with Liverpool and with Chelsea coming up.

The football cliché is there’s no easy matches, so it’s interesting but we’ve been there before so that will hold is in good stead. As long as you’re only one match behind it’s a good place to be because we’ve got the experience in the club, a manager who knows what it’s like and I think it will go to the wire, I wouldn’t be surprised if it went down to the last day. I just hope it doesn’t go down to goal difference.

Find out more about Alan by visiting his official website.

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My first Sir Alex Ferguson manager press conference

Sir Alex Ferguson
On Tuesday 20 December 2011 I got in contact with Sir Alex Ferguson requesting I could attend one of his weekly manger press conferences at Carrington.

Often held at the end of the week during the season, the event is not open to all press. For students, entry behind the gates of ‘Fortress Carrington’ is extremely rare but much to my delight on Thursday 29th December I received a reply from Sir Alex who gratefully accepted.

The following day (30/12/11) I attended the Manchester United manager’s presser which started at about 9:25am. As Ferguson went to leave following the new conference, I was able to personally thank him for allowing me to attend.

The big news to come out of the news conference was that Chris Smalling is suffering from tonsillitis and not glandular fever which the United defender had suffered from when he was a child. Also Ferguson stated he felt Tottenham were playing the best football in the country at the moment and were serious title contenders. It was made known David De Gea would return in goal for the next two games but the Spaniard was later dropped against Newcastle.

The experience of attending Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s press conference was invaluable. As a trainee journalist and Manchester United employee, it was a huge pleasure to attend my first Ferguson presser. I’m very thankful to Sir Alex and the club’s media team.

Carrington news conference area 
The press conference audio in full:

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