Long-term associate of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the man closing in on a 25 per cent stake at Old Trafford, Brailsford is credited as the mastermind behind Team Sky, the cycling behemoth that ripped up the rulebook in the early 2010s. British Cycling attracted multi-million-pound investment and the 59-year-old was tasked with turning that into success.
A five-year target to clinch the Tour de France was obliterated in two when Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner in 2012. Chris Froome, another Team Sky protege, finished second, before going on to win himself in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The philosophy of &aposmarginal gains&apos was embedded into everyone involved. Plausible, realistic targets with the intention of running before one can walk – an ethos to consider when concerning United.
Brailsford outlined his theory when speaking to Harvard University eight years ago. He said: To give you a bit of background (on marginal gains), when we first started out, the top of the Olympic podium seemed like a very long way away. Aiming for gold was too daunting. I had become fascinated with process-improvement techniques.
It struck me that we should think small, not big, and adopt a philosophy of continuous improvement through the aggregation of marginal gains. Forget about perfection, focus on progression – and compound the improvements.
Pique your intrigue? Brailsford outlining exactly what changes were made makes it easier to understand how this could translate to an overhaul at United.
By experimenting in a wind tunnel, we searched for small improvements to aerodynamics, he added. By analysing the mechanic area in the team truck, we discovered that dust was accumulating on the floor, undermining bike maintenance.
So we painted the floor white, in order to spot any impurities. We hired a surgeon to teach our athletes about proper hand washing so as to avoid illnesses during competition. We were precise about food preparation.
We brought our own mattresses and pillows so our athletes could sleep in the same posture every night. We searched for small improvements everywhere and found countless opportunities. Taken together, we felt they gave us a competitive advantage.
Given the outcry at non-playing matters that have been neglected by the Glazers, Brailsford will have a field day at Old Trafford once given authority to govern sporting control.
Club legend Gary Neville is ridiculed by rival supporters for lambasting the stadium. Carrington training ground has also become a yardstick to measure just how far United have fallen, with Cristiano Ronaldo referencing this in his explosive interview.
From a football perspective, INEOS have also, gradually, progressed Nice into Ligue 1 title challengers. Another entity managed by Brailsford, initial improvement following the 2019 takeover was slow, with club captain Dante hitting out in the summer at his frustration regarding the clubs progress.
However, Nice are now unbeaten after 12 games – sitting just one point behind Paris Saint-Germain. Not bad for a club whose expenditure dwarfs their Qatari-backed rivals.