Over the last quarter of a century, Alex Ferguson has said a lot of things — most of them savoury if you’re a Manchester United fan and a lot of it unsavoury if you’re not — or if you’re a referee.
But when he was recently speaking at Harvard Business School in Boston, he didn’t fear the English FA or the Referees’ Association or any other manager biting back at him.
This was Ferguson — uncut, unlocked and at his wittiest.
While talking about fellow managers, he spoke about Jose Mourinho: “Jose is very intelligent, he has charisma, his players play for him, and he is a good looking guy. I think I have most of those things, too, apart from his good looks.”
He also spoke about how he still has issues with anger management (hopefully, he’s mellowed down a bit with age) and said, “I’ve still got a wee bit of anger in me, thinking of how we threw the league away last season. My motivation to the players will be that we cant let City beat us twice in a row.”
Ferguson, who is the longest serving manager in the EPL has never been seen making notes on the touchline ala Rafael Benitez or Andre Villas-Boas. And for this, he has a reasonable explanation: ”I cannot imagine going into the dressing room, looking at my notes, and saying ‘Oh in the 30th minute, that pass you took’. I don’t think it’s going to impress the players.”
People wondering whether Ferguson has a say in everything should know that these days he only looks at the larger picture, with an excellent backroom staff doing most of the coaching.
With team talks being one of his top qualities, he gave an insight as to the examples and imaginative things he says to his players: ”But I am watching this(classical concert) and thinking about the coordination and the teamwork, one starts and one stops, just fantastic. So I spoke to my players about the orchestra – how they are a perfect team.”
Despite all the protest against the Glazers for United fans, Ferguson has never been under pressure from the owners. But they hardly ever interfere: “I remember when I played with Rangers, when the directors were under the shower with their clothes on, dancing about. But the Glazers shook a few hands and had some photographs taken, that was it.”
In the end however, he has a warning of what could be happening at football clubs: “Some English clubs have changed managers so many times that it creates power for the players in the dressing room. That is very dangerous. Football management in the end is all about the players. You think you are a better player than they are, and they think they are a better manager than you are.”
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