Thursday, February 23, 2006

Success Breeds Success: The Value of a Trophy

It may be a cliche to say 'nothing succeeds like success', but that doesn't make the phrase any less true. We'd like to focus today on one of English football's most successful clubs over the past 15 years. During that time, Manchester United have won every major domestic and European trophy, including the European Cup in 1999. Their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is recognised as one of the most successful in English football history. Yet for the past couple of years the current team has failed to live up to the achievements of the recent past. Last year they failed to win a single trophy and this season sees them with just one remaining opportunity to win silverware - the League Cup final against Wigan Athletic this Sunday (26th Feb 2006). In previous seasons Manchester United have regarded this trophy - seen as the least glamorous of the three main English competitions - with disdain, often putting out teams of reserve and youth squad players. So on one level it is a sign of the club's decline that in 2006 their only hope of winning silverware is in this competition. However, the winning spirit has not disappeared. And perhaps more importantly, and certainly more interestingly for us, is the reason behind this desire to win the League Cup. Sir Alex has repeatedly said that winning a trophy - any major trophy - is the aim at the start of every campaign. He knows, and his experienced players know, that success breeds success. A trophy won one year very often creates a momentum that ensures another trophy is won the following year. As team captain Gary Neville says of Sunday's cup final: "This final presents a fantastic opportunity to win a medal for lads like Wayne Rooney and Kieran Richardson, who have not done it before. ... And I know what confidence medals can bring". Neville and Ferguson both know the truth behind the adage 'nothing succeeds like success' and that for the current generation of youngsters in their team it is imperative that they get the taste of silverware and success ... to ensure further and future glory. It is a lesson that can be repeated in all walks of life, from sports to arts to the corporate world to public honours. Reward achievement, and it will reward you.