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Solskjaer shows United the value of a millennial manager


Marcus Rashford has been rejuvenated under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.  Photo: Tom Purslow/Man Utd via Getty Images

Marcus Rashford has been rejuvenated under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Tom Purslow/Man Utd via Getty Images

Man Utd via Getty Images

Marcus Rashford has been rejuvenated under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Photo: Tom Purslow/Man Utd via Getty Images

Society is changing. Football is changing. Footballers are changing - and what it takes to be a successful football manager is changing.

The "millennial type of player", as young footballers are often now referred to, needs a millennial manager.

Strictly speaking the young players are more Generation Z by demographic cohort - born at the turn of the century - but in football they are called millennials.

What criteria are clubs looking for in a manager? Football knowledge, technical and tactical coaching ability are a given.

Premier League clubs now demand that their teams train as they play and with the same intensity; they demand that their managers embrace sports medical science and are well read across disciplines such as nutrition and conditioning.

What marks out the best - and these are traits shared by Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino - is something else: managers need to be able to take the role of being a friend, a father figure, a confidant, but all the while retaining the knowledge that they are the boss and that there needs to be discipline.

They retain the power without being dictatorial.

To achieve this it is not about laying down a set of rules; a list of non-negotiables, a bible of dos and don'ts. Instead, they need "buy-in" from the players to be successful.

It is why it is not far-fetched to suggest that Manchester United are giving serious consideration to pursuing Gareth Southgate as their next manager should they not be able to hire Pochettino.

Southgate talked a lot about buy-in with his England squad at last summer's World Cup, and before they set off to Russia one of the things the players enthused about most was the prompting by Southgate to "share their stories" and talk openly about their experiences and backgrounds.

It made them feel more comfortable and part of something.

The England players loved the "reveal video" through which the squad was announced, using young people from all backgrounds to name them in a film broadcast on social media.

Players are looking for something that is "Instagram-able". They want shareable experiences, which show they are living their lives to the full and reveal their personalities.


Just look at Marcus Rashford's post last week from United's training camp in Dubai, when he tweeted a photograph of himself, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talking to them and affectionately joked that the caretaker manager was reliving the moment he scored the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final.

Not so long ago such a post would have been unthinkable. Now it is seen as an example of the positivity around one of the world's biggest clubs and the intelligent approach taken by Solskjaer - the buy-in.

It is not just in the Premier League. Paul Warne is the 45-year-old manager of Rotherham United, whom he took from League One back into the Championship, and said: "Before you coach them you have to get buy-in from them.

"They have to believe that you believe in them, so then, no matter what, they will do whatever you want because they believe you want the best out of them and for them."

It helps that Warne is a qualified teacher because he also understands the myths about the millennials - that they are lazy, skittish, materialistic, vain and little more. That is simply not true.

In an interview last year with France Football, Jose Mourinho spoke of young players as being "brats" who lack the maturity of players such as Frank Lampard when he was 23, but admitted he had had to adapt or be in the "stone age". They are not brats, but they are different.

Most managers do not like social media but they also realise that they are dealing with a generation who have no recollection of a world without broadband internet, have grown up with smartphones in their hands and want to interact through them and use them as social tools.

It is not about letting them spend all their time on phones, tablets and so on, but understanding their importance and how that can be harnessed.

It is not about railing against the millionaire status of these players. But it is about realising they see no contradiction in pursuing that money and also demanding a working environment which is positive for them.

If managers achieve buy-in then these two things can run successfully in tandem. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent