Manchester City football club fired their manager Roberto Mancini after what they consider to be a disappointing season. The directors then made a statement about it. And their language was quite interesting.
In a stuffy, impersonal announcement they said:
‘The club has failed to achieve any of its stated targets this year, with the exception of qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League. This, combined with an identified need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the club, has meant that the decision has been taken to find a new manager for the 2013-14 season and beyond.’
From the plain English perspective, we’ve got a lovely piece of passive language here: ‘The decision has been taken.’
You often get passive language where no one wants to take responsibility. So who decided? Everyone with a vote? The chief executive? The owner? We don’t know, because they avoided telling us.
And look at that huge pile of nouns: exception, qualification, an identified need, a holistic approach, aspects, football, club, decision. Reading that statement is like cycling along a street with speed bumps. It jars and it slows us down.
They could have cut out ‘for the 2013-14 season and beyond’ without losing any real meaning. You can’t find a new manager for the past, can you?
And with a slight change to the end of the sentence, instead of “This, combined with an identified…” the writer could have used “We…”.
Why the tone?
So how did this get itself written? Manchester City’s management had taken a big decision, one which was a shock to the supporters. So they wrote a pompous official statement full of ugly phrases and superfluous words in a sorry attempt to justify their actions. Writing by committee? Perhaps. But instead of sounding serious, they sounded like a load of self-important old duffers.
We’d love to know which of them thought it was a good idea to stick holistic in there. (But we don’t expect them to own up.)
What do you think?
Does Manchester City’s statement win this season’s award for daftest corporate statement? Or can you find a better one? Let us know.