Tag Archive for 'Manchester United'

From Mongolia to Old Trafford to fulfil a dream

Cultivating your passions is one of the most beautiful ways to live life. Doing something just for the pleasure it brings, not for money or to please someone, and certainly not out of duty. These are activities undertaken to satisfy the child within us, often labeled as useless, leading nowhere, and perhaps even tedious and boring in the eyes of others.

However, these are the activities that give a profound sense of purpose to life, that bring happiness in their execution, that help us better accept the rest of our lives and temporarily distance ourselves from disappointments.

A story like this is realized by Ochirvaani Batbold, 26 years old, who cycled 10,000 kilometers from Mongolia to fulfill his dream of meeting his idol Wayne Rooney and cheering for Manchester United.

In his youth, he was an emerging player in his country, Mongolia, playing in several teams of the top Mongolian league. Then someone promised him a trial with the Los Angeles Galaxy in exchange for 3,000 euros, but he lost his money because the offer turned out to be a scam. It seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. To escape despair, he wrote a letter to Manchester United explaining his situation and thus set off a year ago, taking all this time to reach England.

The former English striker couldn’t believe it and declared: “I wanted to meet you at all costs,” Rooney said to an emotional Batbold upon his arrival in Manchester, “to tell you ‘well done’! You think we footballers gave you inspiration. But what you did is something incredible, and you should be very proud of it.”

History: the grenada quarter of an hour

During the matches it happened that Grande Torino seemed to fall asleep, probably because everyone felt too strong compared to the opponents. In those moments when also the public whistled them, one of them, Oreste Bolmida, railway master of Porta Nuova, understood that he had come to play the charge and then with his trumpet he started playing. At that moment, Valentino Mazzola on the field of play adjusted his hair and rolled up the sleeves of the grenade jersey and gave the quarter of an hour grenade, in which the team became irresistible for the opponents. Like the one at the Stadio Nazionale against Roma who set the result at 0-7, six goals in 14 minutes. In Turin, at home stadium, Philadelphia, it was like this. Mazzola and his team-mates rested in the first half and then, in the second half of the match, the captain pulled up the sleeves of his uniform and the Toro became overwhelming.

Giovanni Arpino, many years later, in 1972, used the word tremendismo to explain this approach to the game:

“But what is the “tremendousness”, so much mentioned this year about the grenade? Paraphrasing Petrolini, you could say: <<Tremendism is that thing / that burns in stadiums and squares / the girls like so much / because it’s red and never goes down … >> … It can indicate even a quarter of an hour, in a match, but in that quarter of an hour it unloads all its driving force”[1].

Tremendismo is the one shown by Ferguson’s Manchester United:

“If I had to sum up what it means to be the coach of Manchester United, I’d say that you have to watch the last 15 minutes: sometimes it’s quite mysterious, it seems that the ball is sucked into the net. Often the players seem to know that it was going to happen, that they were going to score; it didn’t always happen, but the team never stopped believing it. It was a very good quality, this one.                             I always took the risk. My plan was: don’t worry and don’t lose patience until the last quarter of an hour, then attack with your head down”[2] .

[1]“Torino ‘72” [editoria – 40],  edito a supplemento della rivista “Piemonte sport e club” nel 1972, a cura di Giorgio Gandolfi e Bruno Perucca. https://toro.myblog.it/2009/04/19/il-tremendismo/

[2] Alex Ferguson (2014). La mia vita. Milano Bompiani, p.58.

Change the team mood to start again to win

Solskjær is the new manager of Manchester United who is getting a series of incredible positive results with a team in full crisis. He certainly could not change the play from one week to the next and his focus has been oriented on the only thing he could do: he set himself the goal of changing the mentality, working on the mood of the players.

He said  “my job has been to speak to the players, to get to know their feelings, their confidence levels, and how they feel about their situation. I give them some guidelines of course, but there has been lots of talk on freedom of expression…they are good players and it’s up to them to use their imagination, their creativity and just enjoy playing for this club, because that is the best time of your life…”

This mental approach allowed to play with great intensity  and confidence, but even more.

This experience tell us that if a team want to play showing mental readiness it’s necessary to permit the players to express themselves freely, knowing that whatever happens in the pitch, the team will always express itself at its best.

Ferguson’s leader style

Rene Meulensteen  was a key member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s first-team staff at Manchester United for six years. Here he talks about Ferguson’s leadership style


The ultimate aim was to win, but Sir Alex wanted to win in a certain style. I can remember him bringing me into his office when he’d made me first-team coach. He had a flipchart and said, ‘listen, Ren – I don’t need to talk to you about how to run your sessions, you know all that. But I’d like to reiterate what I want to see. Possession is important, but always possession with a purpose. When we attack I want to see pace, power, penetration and unpredictability. These are the four things you must instil in the team in every single training session.’

And he was always a big advocate of youth. That meant investing in youth facilities and policies, but also giving opportunities. If ever he had chance to bring a homegrown player into the first team, he would do it.


The manager achieved the highest level of management – he delegated. He was overseeing it all, he always stayed in control, but he gave us the freedom to do our jobs as well as we could.

Creating the right environment

There was something else, which I only really realised afterwards: not once did I ever feel any level of pressure, not in the six years I worked for him. I never felt ‘I’m under the cosh here’ or ‘the manager’s not happy with this’. That takes top-drawer management, to make everyone feel that comfortable. We had some tough moments but never got carried away. We were able to very quickly see it in perspective and move on.

Always adapting

Things change … He had this ability to adapt and evolve, which is rare, maybe unique, when you think how long he had been there and how much success he had had.

Being decisive

If a difficult decision had to be made, he would make it … He was never afraid to make the big calls.


He always said, ‘our approach is 75/25 -75% about us, 25% about the opposition. Because we are Man United.’ It was about always reinforcing how good we were, how strong we were.


The key to working with such high-profile players is to inform and facilitate. In training, you’re not telling them every step they should make, you’re showing them the options. You back it up with video footage – ‘this is what I talked to you about, this is what I meant’. And you let them evolve it.

If one thing stands out from my time at Man United it was the amount of laughs we had. We laughed every single day. Sir Alex had an unbelievable sense of humour.


Thank you Sir Alex

Fergie's farewell 2: Man Utd v Swansea