So the new football season is in full swing and after mass expenditure of way over £100m, Manchester United have made an even poorer start to 2014 than they did in 2013.

I’m sure there is (and many tabloids have filled many pages with supposed “expert” opinions) a whole raft of analysis that could be conducted on why their performance has been so poor under their new manager and with new “world class” players. I’m equally sure that such analysis can be easily translated away from the world of football and into the world where “teams” exist in businesses.

I have watched a number of their recent games on TV and would like to focus on one particular aspect that I’ve noticed.

To my mind I would expect any player in any team to have some “performance standards” made clear to them – I’m not singling out football here – it’s equally applicable in business. Let’s say you are a Finance team – as the manager of that team it would be completely reasonable to set some minimum standards on such things for example as numeracy, customer service, helping your team mates, accuracy, standard of English, timeliness of reporting and so on. When your team “players” fail to reach that standard there should be some consequence for them and remedies put in place. And when “players” consistently fail to reach required standard the consequences should be significant.

Even the lowest paid first team player at Manchester United will be on a £100K a week as their salary. It would seem not unreasonable therefore to impose some “standards” which you’d expect the players to meet consistently.  So maybe it would be reasonable to expect that players playing at this level could do things like “trap and control a football”, “pass a football 10 yards to a member of your own team, preferably in front of them not behind them”, “use your eyes to see where you opponents are”, “don’t give up if someone tackles you” and so on.  Interestingly I’d suggest these are standards more becoming of an junior school team…………….yet watching the recent games I have lost count of how many times certain players seem unable to do such basics.

It’s interesting that I have not read a single piece of analysis by the so called football expert pundits who have even mentioned such things. Instead they’ve been wittering on about an imbalance of where the transfer money has been spent, players not playing in their best positions and so on. These things may well also be true……………….but surely something far more fundamental needs fixing first?

All of which leads me to think that it’s unlikely that football alone has this malaise of missing something fundamental when it comes to looking at team performance.

Are your individuals doing the basics right?

Are they utterly clear on what those basics are?

Thanks for reading. Tim Fuller.