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Steve McClaren Explains The Three "Cultural Architects" Needed At Manchester United

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Steve McClaren Explains The Three "Cultural Architects" Needed At Manchester United

Leadership is a fundamental requirement in any elite-level sports team, and Manchester United lack it.

Be it from the owners or on the pitch, Manchester United have a big leadership problem. There seems to be a consistent lack of direction from the club, and for fans this is frustrating to see. 

On his podcast, returning assistant manager Steve McClaren touches on the importance of leadership.

McClaren first referenced something he read in a book about 'cultural architects', then mentioning how on another footballing podcast a manager explained about finding your cultural architects in a squad.

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Whilst Old Trafford does need rebuilding, McClaren is speaking about squad building here and he mentions that the players who fit this bill are "liked and admired by everyone in that dressing room". 

He expanded on this, mentioning one of the reasons they are viewed this way as being their footballing status, an example in United's current squad would be Cristiano Ronaldo who is widely considered one of the greatest footballers ever.

Debate on if Cristiano Ronaldo is a help or a hinderance to Manchester United has been rife in the last year. (Alamy)
Debate on if Cristiano Ronaldo is a help or a hinderance to Manchester United has been rife in the last year. (Alamy)

Another reason he mentioned was their attitude, citing Kevin Sinfield of Rugby League's Leeds Rhinos as an example of a player who wasn't the best but "prepared the best and worked the hardest".

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He then went on to state that his attitude was to "make everyone around him better". 

Roy Keane is the biggest Manchester United related example of this, with his attitude being a large part of what made the Irishman such a successful captain at Old Trafford.

It is difficult to think of who currently fits this bill in Manchester's red half.

His final example of a 'cultural architect' was a player who is admired for his talent.

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"Absolutely silent, doesn't say much, doesn't have to say anything just demonstrates, you know, his all for the team, maximum effort, and he gives his heart, his soul and his legs for the club" were the words of the Englishman.

In United's current squad, it is difficult to think of an example of a player that really fits this bill, the closest would probably be French centre half Raphaël Varane.

Raphael Varane unveil at Manchester United. (Alamy)
Raphael Varane unveil at Manchester United. (Alamy)

In the past, United's squad has been filled with these talents who do their talking on the pitch, the most notable probably being Paul Scholes.

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McClaren continued on, "These are the cultural architects you need to find in your team, so coming into Manchester United straight away in my mind is 'Who are the cultural architects?', 'Who can you build this team around?'."

McClaren then went on to speak about the importance of having multiple leaders in a squad.

"There's not one leader, there's not one captain, there are a few - they're called lieutenants and they're all connectors, and they all connect to each other.

"Some through the status, some through their talent, and some through their attitude to make those around them better, but I think it's up to everybody if they're a cultural architect to make those around them better."

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McClaren covers something extremely important in these quotes, and something which is a big issue at United.

Seeing that he is aware of the issue, and identifies it as something to tackle quickly, is refreshing for fans of the club to see.

Erik ten Hag watching Manchester United vs Crystal Palace with Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren. (Alamy)
Erik ten Hag watching Manchester United vs Crystal Palace with Mitchell van der Gaag and Steve McClaren. (Alamy)

With uncertainty over who is even going to be the club captain heading into the new season, McClaren's awareness of this issue and keenness to tackle it will help to identify possible leaders within the squad, and even impact what the club's transfer plans are.

In United's current squad, Harry Maguire does not give off major confidence as captain at present.

David de Gea captaincy shouts feel like they only exist because of his length of service to the club, Cristiano Ronaldo would be too short term and both him and Bruno Fernandes lack the emotional maturity to wear the armband.

An option could be Varane, who was given the armband against Atlético Madrid after Maguire's substitution and was offered the club captaincy at Real Madrid before he left.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Premier League, Erik Ten Hag, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane, Football, Harry Maguire

Yusuf Haq
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