Quotes on: Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex’s players

“The impact he had on St Mirren was incredible. He not only built up the football club, he built the structure around it. There was something about the man, something that all great leaders have. It is a quality you can’t put your finger on. Not only is a great, great manager, he is a great man and that is maybe the part people don’t realise. It is an honour to know him.”
— Tony Fitzpatrick

“He is the best manager of his generation for me. I just know he is a special, special man – I knew he would be a success at United – absolutely no danger.”
— Gordon Strachan

“There were explosive moments with him as manager but that wasn’t a problem. Sometimes the manager upset a player because he wanted to win so badly. He had that desire and that rubbed off on us. You had to do well because if you didn’t, he would let you know. You had to do well and I think players realised that and played for him.
Of course he lost his temper and there was a fear about the place but he also looked after his players and he earned massive respect for that. He was a genius. It was a privilege to play for him and I consider him a friend. He is the greatest manager of all time and probably always will be.”
— Frank McDougall
(former St. Mirren and Aberdeen striker)

“I was with him at Aberdeen between 16 and 23. He has an insatiable appetite to continually climb the next peak. He has a fabulous work-rate and he constantly demands of his players – he constantly demands certain levels of his players and himself.

“Without doubt there was fear. I certainly feared him in some regards. That was what he wanted to instil. You either climbed the peaks with him or you disappeared. It was a constant test and constant demand. Only now looking back, do I see how rigorous it was.

“You knew when you were playing badly. At half-time I would look at my boots and hope I wasn’t the one he would be coming for.

“He is prepared to tell you what he wants and if you are not prepared to deliver he will tell you. There are numerous moments I was on the end of it; I think it was his way of forming us.

“He was constantly challenging, even in training. He would not accept second best. You have that fear but you also don’t want to let him down. I enjoyed some of the best parts of my career at Aberdeen.” — Eric Black

“He will be up there with the greats – the Bill Shanklys, Bob Paisleys, Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alf Ramseys. If you look back at what Fergie has won, he stands above them all. [ . . . ] He is the most outstanding manager there has ever been. Whatever era you are in, to manage Manchester United for 24 years and win the trophies he has won is incredible. He has won everything – 11 titles, loads of FA Cups, Carling Cups and the European Cup. The list goes on and on. I don’t think anyone else will ever come anywhere near it.”
— Steve Bruce

“He’s probably the greatest club manager there has ever been. Aside from what he has achieved at Manchester United, just look at his record with Aberdeen. Celtic and Rangers dominated everything in Scotland but he took a young team, won a European trophy and then also won the league. For a club like Aberdeen, that is an incredible achievement. He then came down to United, built five different teams, brought the youth system back and has gone on to do an incredible job. To win as many trophies as he did is unheard of.”
Bryan Robson

“Ferguson is probably the greatest club manager ever. It is unbelievable to change around probably four different squads and have the success he has.”
— Bryan Robson

“I know the pressure he has had to endure over such a long period, so for him to keep driving himself forward and driving his team forward is a fantastic achievement.”
— Mark Hughes

“First of all, he is an incredible man-manager. To be that, you have to know who you’re dealing with, and he knew everyone, every single player at the club, every parent’s name, everyone who is employed at the club, despite the circulation of players during the summer. That’s a very big skill, and a very important thing for him in order to do his job. When I retired, every now and then I went to watch training, and he was very happy for old players to come back. He’d be walking around with his hands in his pockets, watching training, and would say, ‘Come, let’s go and watch the kids.’ We’d watch the Under-17s, and he’d point to a player and say, ‘That player over there, he’s going to play in the League Cup 18 months from now. We’ll give him a game then, and he’ll probably be on the bench once, maybe twice.’ So he would be planning 18 months into the future. One year he let Mark Hughes, Paul Ince, and Andrei Kanchelskis leave in the same summer, and he didn’t bring anyone in. He said, ‘My responsibility is that if I want to bring kids through, I have to give them an opportunity to play, so I’ve got to make space in the team for them. [ . . . ] That’s knowing your players. He knows when players have to be moved on before anybody else, even the player themselves, and he knows who is going to replace them, and that’s one of his major talents. Then he has the ability to evolve and develop himself; over the course of 25 years you can’t be the same guy.”
Peter Schmeichel

“What he’s done is unbelievable. You’ll never see anyone of his kind again. [ . . . ] The man was immense and he got the best out of me that’s for sure. The way he treated me was like a son.”
— Paul Ince

“He’s a very special man. [ . . . ] Given the length of time he’s been at the club, I don’t think any manager’s going to be able to (replicate his success over so many years). When you join a club like Manchester United, you’ve got to bring success, and he’s brought that in abundance. He’s just different. He’s got the character. When people talk about the hairdryer, there’s a lot more to it than that, he’s got the character to bring the best out of his players.”
— Andy Cole

“He stands out with his will to win, he knows football, he knows his players and he knows his own club inside-out.”
Roy Keane

“For us all to come together at Manchester United as a group but then have a manager who was willing to make a pathway through and get rid of all the experienced players… that takes a lot of courage for a boss. If you think about a boss in a law firm or an accountancy. The easiest thing for him to do is to go and get a headhunter in to get a 35 or 40-year-old proven, talented accountant or a talented lawyer. But the real challenge and courage is when a boss says, ‘no, actually I’m going to live with this 22 or 23-year-old who is actually developing and I can see something in him.’ And you get the results in the long term.”
Gary Neville

“He never feels like he’s got to the top of the mountain. He always feels he has to go further and higher.”
— Gary Neville

“You can see the aggression still. It scares me when I watch him on telly. He’s always going to be that person. He has got that aggression. It will never go away from him as a manager. It’s one of the reasons why he is respected like he is, but he has got that tender side as well. Not always, but he does have it and it’s one of the reasons I had the relationship with him over the years and that I have now. Without him I would never have achieved what I have done. After ’98 without the manager I would have found it virtually impossible to cope with the attention I was getting and for this I will always be grateful to him.”
David Beckham

slide_265346_1796621_sq50“He is a man with a mission, Manchester United through and through. I’d say his drive was more important to our success than anything else.”
— David Beckham

“He had that skill of [knowing] have you got to put your arm round someone or have you got to lose your temper to get the best out of them. I remember him having a go at me at half-time and I had the sort of attitude that ‘Right, I’ll show him’. And I played well in the second half, so then he quickly knew how I would respond to him losing his temper. That followed me for the next 20 years, so it was a big mistake early on.”
Ryan Giggs

“The thing that amazed me and frustrated me at times was his man-management. I’d never seen him have a go at Eric Cantona for example. Some of the players would resent that: ‘why is he not having a go at Cantona? He’s missed a penalty. Or why is he not having a go at Cantona? He’s had an awful game.’ The manager knew in the long-run that he would come good. That he would produce the goods at the right time. His man-management was second to none.” — Ryan Giggs

“I will never forget the loyalty he showed me. Everything I have learnt I have learnt from the boss.”
— Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“I’m very grateful for the chances and support he gave me over the five years (I was at Manchester United). [ . . . ] he was able to get the best out of each individual, and he did that for me as well, not only on the pitch but off the field as well, he gave me a lot and I’m very grateful for it.”
— Ruud van Nistelrooy

“We played Benfica away and I think we got beat. We didn’t play well and he was shouting at me and I thought I was one of the best players on the day. So I going back at him. And the problem is, which I failed to learn quickly, is that the more you shout at him, the louder he gets, and the more aggressive he gets, and the closer he gets to you.”
Rio Ferdinand

“The boss defends his players to the hilt and that’s why he gets great respect from the players. They know they can trust him 100%. It is something on which the whole foundations of this club are built.”
— Rio Ferdinand

“When my dad was sick in London and was in hospital – very bad, in a coma – I had a conversation with [Ferguson]. I said, ‘Boss, I don’t feel good.’ We were in a key moment in the league and the Champions League, but I said, ‘Boss, I don’t feel good. I want to see my dad.’ [He said] ‘Cristiano, you want to go one day, two days, one week, you can go. I’m going to miss you here because you know you are important, but your dad [comes] first.’ When he told me that, I thought, ‘This guy’s unbelievable.’ [ . . . ] It was a family with him. He was a football father for me.”
Cristiano Ronaldo

“I remember sometimes when we do something bad or we lost some games he kicked the chairs and he kicked the boots, he kicked everything, the waters, the drinks. And he’s so red and, ‘F*** you, you should pass the ball, you…’ it was unbelievable but it was good – because we learn.”
— Cristiano Ronaldo

“I learnt a lot from Sir Alex [ . . . ]. One of the terms that I still remember today is ‘decision-making’.’You are great, but you don’t have decision-making. Pass the f***ing ball.’ He always told me that. ‘Cristiano: pass the f***ing ball.’ I still have contact with him. He is a great guy, great coach, great human being.”
— Cristiano Ronaldo

“I’m not the only person who had differences with Sir Alex Ferguson, but I can still sit here and say he was the greatest manager of all time.”
Wayne Rooney

“I think there is no one in the world who can be compared with Alex Ferguson. [ . . . ] We worked for six years together, but even one year is enough to understand how good a person and manager Ferguson is. You can easily notice how big a role he is playing in the world of football. When I was playing for Manchester United, I could see that Ferguson was everything for the club. Sometimes the team were not doing well, but with a single word he managed to change everything and won the match.”
— Nani

“Working with Sir Alex is something I’ll never forget. He’s the best I’ve worked with. I learnt so much from him on the training ground. Even today, talking about him is inspirational and a motivation. I’m so happy to be part of his story. He is someone I’ll remember all my life.”
— Nani

“To say I played under him for three years is a proud thing to say.”
— Michael Owen

“I’m so grateful to Ferguson. I think he’s the best there’s ever been, especially his squad management skills. Every player had his place. A squad player could still play 15 games a season. He opened the door to Europe for me and I won two league titles there.”
— Javier Hernandez

“My decision to come to Manchester was partly because of the presence of Ferguson, or excuse me, Sir Alex.”
— Robin van Persie

“I played with him for one year but it was a very special year: we won the league! The road to that title was very special. I could tell he’s a really special manager. One little example: When we were 15 points ahead, it was in February or March – we lost against City. We could have gone 18 points clear but still we were in a very good position. He was very hard on us, very angry. He made everyone aware that everybody had to give their all. The training was very hard that week, he was almost punishing us. We were 15 points ahead! But that showed me he was a really good manager.”
— Robin van Persie

“He normally left the training to the coaching staff. The day or so before the game, he just turned up at the stadium or hotel. Although I had heard about the [hairdryer] rumour before going to Manchester, I hadn’t seen any managers shouting that hard. It really was like a hairdryer, as it is called, he shouted really hard with his face really red, especially at the core players. It was my first season, so he maybe overlooked me a little bit and I didn’t get shouted at very much. The fact that he can shout at leading players such as [Wayne] Rooney, [Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes, Rio [Ferdinand] shows his presence. Those players have to take it in and cannot say anything, so the players respect him that much. His aura and his driving force are really great and I thought that’s why he had the ability to manage those players. I think it was a great experience for my football life that I played his last season with him, someone who has the greatest number of titles in football and is a legendary manager. It really was a big moment to be with that kind of person.”
— Shinji Kagawa

Managers and Others

“He was building a talented, hungry, aggressive, home-bred group of players and he had a public which wanted success and would travel with the team. Between the home-bred players, the local media, the fans and the board it was easy as pie to sell them the idea that the Old Firm were swaggering bullies who just needed a regular jab to the nose to make them run away, and to sell the idea that the West of Scotland media were biased and, in the main, supporters of Rangers or Celtic.”
— Graham Hunter
(author, broadcaster, journalist, talking about Ferguson’s role in establishing Aberdeen as a Scottish superpower)

“He always had that ‘me against the world’ mentality. It’s special and you cannot just engineer it because you read it in textbooks that it might work with a group of sportsmen or women.”
— Graham Hunter

“Everything, his talent, the time he put his talent at the service of Manchester United and football in general (when asked what makes Sir Alex special). The passion that he has put in to everything, and after that in private moments, obviously, a good friend, a good person, a fantastic sense of humour. I like him very, very much. Now and again I’ve had questions to put to him and the way he has answered to me was always magnificent and a great support.”
Jose Mourinho

“Sir Alex made Man United think in a certain way. He modelled club around his personaliy. Man United will always be influenced by what he did. The club was made in his image.”
— Jose Mourinho

“This club was the best club in England thanks to him. He re-organised the club and put the club on another level in this country. I am pretty sure Alex Ferguson was the most important person in this club’s history, at least in the last half-century.”
Pep Guardiola

“No one will be able to match his achievements, his dedication, his support for colleagues in need and his team building know-how.”
— Roy Hodgson

“Altogether nobody has done better. It is remarkable to have such a consistent motivation at that level – and deal with the stress and all the other ingredients in the game.”
— Arsene Wenger

“When you think that the average life of a manager is one year and seven days, and somebody has done 20, it is a remarkable achievement. I feel we had some heated times – but time will settle things and there is a respect there now.”
— Arsene Wenger
(2006)

“Maybe he is the greatest ever — the John Lennon of football. From my side there is a big amount of respect. What he did is not easy for another manager to do.”
— Jurgen Klopp

“People did not know how much he used to watch the youth team when the like of the Nevilles, Butt, Scholes and Beckham were in it, he knew every player well. Nobody at Old Trafford thought you could emulate Sir Matt Busby or beat his record. But Sir Alex did and that tells the tale.”
— Eric Harrison

“He is so well read, interesting and great company. If you asked me the old question about who you would have at your ideal dinner party, Sir Alex would be at mine.”
— Walter Smith

“I once rang him up and was on for 10 minutes about players and he told me about every player, their strengths and their weaknesses. I put the phone down and I said ‘I bet he even knows the Dunfermline groundsman’ so I rang him back and said ‘Hey Alex, I forgot to ask you about the Dunfermline groundsman’ and, by God, he did know his name and where he came from!”
— Neil Warnock

“You have to hold your hands up and say Sir Alex is the number one. [ . . ] His desire is unstinting, his passion and will to win fierce.”
— Paul Jewell

“I’ll tell you why he’s stayed in the game so long – he just loves it so much. It gets in your blood and you take the job home with you. He’s a fantastic character, a top-class manager and a good man.”
— Harry Redknapp

“At the end of United’s Treble-winning season in 1999, we were having a cup of tea at the training ground and he was already talking about what was needed for the season after. That’s how he’s been so successful!”
— Steve McClaren

“He is the standard bearer for everyone in terms of management. You have to be a very special character to have that amount of success at a club like Manchester United.”
— Gareth Southgate

“He achieves one thing and then, as they say, moves on to the next mountain and the next mountain is higher and that’s what he does. He has built four or five successful teams and that proves how great he is.”
— Sven-Goran Eriksson

“Sir Alex has made a massive contribution to football, not only in Scotland and in England, but across Europe and beyond. He is a true visionary [ . . . ]. His dedication, his attention to detail and his unique eye for talent, as both the manager of Manchester United and Aberdeen, has brought rich rewards over a 30-year period. His CV is almost unique in a results-based profession that normally focuses on short-term solutions rather than long-term vision.”
— Michel Platini

“His know-how, his desire, his hunger, his will to win and longevity are absolutely staggering. He’s an absolute genius. If you could bottle that, it’d be worth a fortune.”
Alan Shearer

“Alex has proven time and time again what a fantastic manager he is, but he’s also a wonderful person. His determination to succeed and dedication to the club have been truly remarkable.”
— Joel Glazer

“What he has done for this club and for the game in general will never be forgotten.”
— David Gill

“It would take me a long time to sum up what Alex has done for English football during his time at United. He has turned out to be one of the greatest managers the world has ever seen, if not the greatest.”
— Denis Law

“I have never seen a man so capable of carrying the burden of following the Old Man (Sir Matt Busby). He has the strength and the powers of leadership and I know if he gets the job the club is in the best possible hands.”
Sir Bobby Charlton (1986)

“Aside from all the success, Alex’s biggest achievement has undoubtedly been his adherence to bringing youngsters through and making them part of an attacking team. Sir Matt Busby’s philosophy was exactly the same and when Alex joined the club he immediately wanted to know about the contribution Matt Busby had made and what he had achieved at United.”
— Sir Bobby Charlton

“He is such a fantastic manager. Everything he has done has been fantastic.”
— Sir Bobby Charlton

“We made the best decision we ever could in bringing Alex Ferguson to this club.”
— Sir Bobby Charlton

“The best there’s ever been? Yes, he is nothing less than fantastic.”
— Sir Bobby Charlton

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