Don’t Underestimate the Opposition (from Van Gaal)

Don’t underestimate the opposition (from Van Gaal)

Well, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks in the sporting world. Nothing has surprised Steve and I more than seeing the eye-watering defeat of Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United by MK Dons.

This was the second round of the Capital One Cup and you could be forgiven for thinking that MK Dons were punching above their weight. Literally Manchester United were well out of their league. Or so they thought!

The scoreboard confirms Van Gaal’s nightmare!

LVG decided to field an under-strength squad, with many names probably being heard for the first time by many watching. He must have thought his youngsters were strong enough to overcome the league 1 underdogs. However, the finishing score line of 4-0 to the Dons must have left van Gaal feeling at best, a little embarrassed and at worst, wondering if he was holding a poisoned chalice. Despite the humiliation and bewilderment, there are important lessons to be learned here that could be applied to any ‘business’.

Don’t panic

It was evident that there seemed to be a fair amount of panic within the Man U squad. Panic is a terrible thing. When things start to go wrong panic has a way of freezing the brain and hobbling our ability to formulate appropriate responses. When things start to go wrong in business, and let’s face it, they do, panic is a wasted emotion. Taking a deep breath to allow the brain to engage is the only way forward.

Keep your eye on the ball

So Man U definitely had a strategy, it’s just that it was the wrong one to outwit the opposition. Any attempt by van Gaal to gain ground was thwarted by the MK Dons whipper-snappers.

We all have our strategies to attract and maintain customers and our continued success depends very much on keeping our eyes on the ball. Keeping up with the opposition’s strategy is also key in our own success. What are they doing that we are not? Is there a shift in the market? Are we delivering everything our customers need in a way they need it? And if we’re not, who is and how can we make changes quickly? These are all questions we should ask ourselves frequently if we wish to retain our market share.

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NEVER underestimate the opposition

Possibly the biggest transgression of the Manchester side. They are the bigger team, budget wise. They are in a different league. They have more resources. They have the weight of their very many successes behind them. What they didn’t do was work out how they would respond if MK Dons didn’t care about all that. They were unremittingly out-witted, out-flanked and completely out-played because of it.

If we rest on our laurels we are taking a great risk. If we make assumptions about the strength of our brand – ditto. The new kid on the block could give us a rude awakening. From a business point of view it serves us well, not only to keep an eye on our competitors but to study them to ensure they are not delivering anything we are not.

If we are flexible and wise to make changes in our strategy to appeal to our customers, we should not assume the opposition are any different.

It just goes to show; just because you are a small fish in a big pond doesn’t preclude great success if you play smart.

Well played MK Dons!

Bender from Futurama holding a board aloft "Applause"

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