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“I was embarrassed” – Sir Dave Brailsford recalls difficult moment that could shape Man United tenure



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Credit: Diary of a CEO

Sir Dave Brailsford enters Manchester United at board level following Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal for a 25 per cent stake and is highly regarded.

Brailsford, 59, is the Director of Sport at Ineos-led OGC Nice and is expected to play a large role in the reshuffle at Old Trafford under the new sporting leadership. Jean-Claude Blanc will also join the club.

The director was spotted at the stadium when United completed a 3-2 comeback against Aston Villa last week and was also sat alongside Sir Alex Ferguson at The City Ground during the weekend defeat against Nottingham Forest.

He has vast experience in top-level sports, particularly in cycling. When he became head of British Cycling in 2003, the team had only won a single Olympic gold medal in its 76-year history.

As the performance director, he oversaw eight gold medals at both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.

Yet, when asked about the team’s failure to win the 2014 Tour de France on the Diary of a CEO podcast, Brailsford outlined his disappointment and why he strives for success.

“Big time, at the time, I was embarrassed,” he began. “Not for the team or anything, just for myself. I couldn’t go out, couldn’t go out of the house, couldn’t leave the garden.

“I remember I called Steve Peters from my garden and said, ‘God, I’ve let everybody down, I’ve failed’, and it was quite [difficult].

“Winning for me doesn’t actually… it sounds terrible, but I get an exhilaration from the moment that you win obviously, it’s great to win. But the emotion, the depth and the amount of emotion it gives me to win is nowhere near the amount of emotion I get from losing.

“The negative emotion from losing is massive for me, whereas the positive of winning is okay, yeah, I’ve done the job, and it’s part of the journey, great, fantastic, let’s keep on going.”

This kind of approach to winning and striving for success will be a breath of fresh air for United fans who have been used to Glazer ownership for almost two decades.

Brailsford appears like a character that is needed at Old Trafford, although, so did Ralf Rangnick, and his impact was minimal whilst at the club. Still, there seems to be positive signs with how Brailsford approaches his projects.

“Not wanting to lose and really trying to help people to win, I’ve always had it and always been the same,” continued Brailsford I get super excited by wanting to do big, bold and ambitious things and going out and saying let’s go and do X and then going ‘wow, what’ve I done’ and then of course I’ve got to make it happen and I get after making it happen.

“There’s part of me that’s probably my heart which is the crazy ambition of wanting to do things that haven’t been done before, helping people go after stuff. Nothing is impossible.

“And then you got to get after it, and I think the getting after it is where I go back into more of the detail, the margins and that’s the doing of it. And it’s as if my head and my heart just set these wild ambitions and then I got to switch out of that and into the ‘right, let’s get after it’ and that not wanting to not succeed at whatever it was is what drives me.”

Many United fans wanted a full sale but with those at Ineos taking full sporting control of the club, their tenure could be defined by the hard work and resilience of the likes of Brailsford.