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How Football And Business Both Obey The Unwritten Law Of Cycles

26/05/2017 12:41 BST | Updated 26/05/2017 12:42 BST

When I was 10, I was hugely upset about the ailing fortunes of my club Manchester United. They were a pretty dismal team back then, languishing mid-table and it was widely assumed that this young Scottish manager we'd found at Aberdeen would soon be sacked. My cousin supported Chelsea, and was a whole decade older than me. His team at that point were actually sent down from the top flight after the relegation play off (remember those?) condemning them to the depths of the then Division Two.

 

My cousin told me not to worry though, as football always goes in cycles.

 

My little 10-year-old brain wondered what he meant, and he taught me a small lesson about the ebb and flow of football, how teams have periods of success and times of failure too. That one day United would be at the top just as Liverpool were then in 1987.

 

Of course he was right. United went on to win everything with that unfancied Scotsman, before more recently slumping since his retirement. I would never have known quite how incredible that winning time would be. And as I write this, my cousin's side Chelsea are sat top of the tree - right at the peak of yet another cycle and current champions of England.

 

I now tell my seven-year-old son a similar story when he wonders why his beloved United aren't that great. And explain how we will be back, how he needs to be patient, and how the bad times make the great times even better.

 

I am lucky enough that my job is totally about football. Everyday I see how football unites, connects and sometimes even heals divisions. I think about football every day and regularly deal with some of the 3.5 billion fans around the world.

 

It struck me that with the beautiful game, there are many elements that mirror the world of business. A deep understanding of this cyclical nature of life is precisely the kind of learning people would benefit greatly from. It's far from confined to football.

 

Nothing is permanent - everything changes eventually. From staffing and churn, to eras of company greatness and beyond.

 

There are many reasons why, and competing elements to pinpoint cause against, yet irrespective of these will be the absolute guarantee that nothing lasts forever. Everything comes round again.

 

There are loads of big businesses that have their moment in the sun before the 100% certainty that they will eventually be pushed from the perch and struggle to regain their spot again for years.

 

Think of the way even the most stable companies can lose people en masse, where a trickle becomes an exodus before the place regains stability and levels out again.

 

Consider the notion of innovation in mega brands like Apple. This defined them when they broke into public conscious with the Apple Mac home computer, before being close to extinction in the Eighties as they were outgunned by Bill Gates - only to pioneer all over again through the colourful transparent iMac, and more importantly, the launch of the iPod at precisely the right time. They turned into one of the world's most successful brands and a cultural era defining force. The cycle was perfectly complete.

 

Cycles are a vital part of life. They're a fundamental pillar of football. And they underpin business too. If you recognise this, it can help you stay ahead of the game. It means you won't sleepwalk into problems but plan ahead. It means you will be less surprised by the ebb and flow of the business and can forge forward thinking action plans to remain at the top. Just like Chelsea right now - though hopefully Man United will be again one day...perhaps starting with their Europa League Cup win?