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Alex Ferguson Q&A from the Branch Secretaries do - exclusive transcript from RN200

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  • Alex Ferguson Q&A from the Branch Secretaries do - exclusive transcript from RN200

    from Red News 200

    The club recently held its bi-annual Branch meeting and Fergie did a Q&A with the Secretaries present. Here’s some highlights...

    ‘We have some great players coming through, the two Keanes, Larnell Cole, Jesse Lingard all have the quality that will get them into the first team squad. Our academy isn’t just about producing players who are first team ready. We give youngsters a grounding in football. We produce players who go on and have a good career in football and that is important. There are about 92 players who have come through our academy who are making a good living playing professional football. Some great players in their leagues. The lad we have at the club now, Adnan, I can’t pronounce his name, we just call him Adnan is the one to watch, one of the most promising talents we have had here.’

    ‘Our model is changing and I think we should have as many ex-players at the club as possible. We started with Tony Whelan and he has done a great job at the academy. Butt, Giggs, Scholes, they all have what it takes to become managers and good coaches; they will all definitely have a role at this club. Butty is working with the reserve team now. Gary Neville has a role as well, but he has chosen to go onto the TV at the moment, which isn’t wise as he’s not photogenic! I mean look at him, that’s not a face for TV is it! We want to copy the Bayern Munich model at this club; it’s a superb model, run by ex-players who know the history of the club, all the way from the president down and through the coaches. That’s what we want here.’

    ‘We were always hopeful we would get Robin. He’s a much better player than you think and he has turned out better than any of us thought. He has kicked on from Arsenal, a much better player now than he was there. He is superb with the young players, giving advice, bringing their game on. His performances have been pleasing and his role with the youngsters and the impact he has on them is fantastic.’

    Q- Which player did you regret missing out on? ‘Gazza, it was a loss to him more than it was to us. We had Robson, Bruce and Bobby Charlton here, all Geordies and all would have helped him. He got lost in London, a shame, a real shame. You saw what he did when he played against us, we couldn’t even get near him to kick him. A definite shame’.

    Q- Is there any one player that you wish you could sign? Past or present? ‘Charlton, Law, Edwards, I would have loved to have had them playing for me. Bobby tells me about Edwards, he says Duncan was the best he has ever played with, the best he has seen. Look at his record, he had 18 caps and had played at a time when the national team only played 3 times a year. He was only a young lad, remarkable. That record says a lot. There is a fallacy about past players and modern football. People say the game now is too quick, that’s nonsense. Those players could play in any era. Cruyff, Pele, Best, they have better pitches these days, apart from Old Trafford in November! Look at some of the pitches from the past. Pearson broke his leg after his foot caught in a divot. You don’t get that now, modern pitches bring a benefit to the game. Those players would have performed even better.’

    Q - Is foreign language a benefit in the dressing room?’It’s important, I’m fluent in another language, but nobody else understands Scottish! I can get by in German and French and hold a conversation with broken pigeon words. If it’s about football I can talk about it. I wish I was fluent in Spanish for the South American players. It’s amazing at our club, the foreign players all sit together at the table, all eat together. Evra speaks 6 languages, Forlan spoke 5 or 6, it’s an advantage. I can speak French with Evra.’

    ‘I'll never manage Scotland again; this is my last job here. I wouldn’t have taken the Scotland job at the time and couldn’t have it then, I was too young. I just had to take it after Jock Stein passed away.’

    ‘I can’t watch that Sky Sports News thing on deadline day, it’s terrible. Feel for those reporters, they stand there with kids jumping about, jumping all over them, terrible.’


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    Q - Do you think professional refs should have to face the TV? ‘It’s difficult for a ref to face a mistake. TV shouldn’t involve them. You have no control over what the TV can ask you. If you are high profile you get fined and done for anything. I get done for everything. £125,000 fine, I was innocent. Others say the same yet never get caught. Better man management of refs is needed. I don’t believe they are full time, are you telling me they train and get coached every day? They are given a self training programme, that’s difficult to do every day, to discipline yourself to do it. Maybe they should use St George’s Park, but they would have to stay there and the cost would be huge.

    Q - Will goal line technology affect the enjoyment? ‘You can’t enjoy it if it’s not given! It has to come, progress is needed. The problem is with FIFA that not everyone can afford it. The profile will always be with the top teams. It’s not a level field then. Goal line technology is a start, it’s correct, it solves problems.’

    Q- Is there one icon you could meet or event you would like to attend? ‘I would have loved to have met Ali; he is the greatest of all time. Not just in the ring but what he stood for. I would love to go to the Durban Cup and the Kentucky Derby. Would love to go to a Boca Juniors derby match, but you’d have to carry a machine gun to go to that! I am happy with what I have done and what I have seen.’

    Q - How many titles is enough? ‘I never count them. The next one is always the best. Just win the next game, we develop that attitude. We don’t look back, we want to win all the time. Last season was a killer for us, we were Champions for 20 seconds. It hurts, you start analysing every game. Did I make right decisions at the Everton game? This squad will carry on, the ages of the players is correct. We have the right players in their 30s who look after themselves. Rio is coping better with injuries; he has started doing yoga with Ryan. Below 25 we have a big bunch, there is lots of quality, and we hope they stay together.’

    this was held the Friday before Norwich (and Madrid)

    Q - Who in the current squad could go on to be a top manager?
    A - It's hard to say as players don’t always take that path. It was a certainty that Bryan Robson would be a top manager, although he was never as bad tempered as me.
    Robbo was unlucky with his jobs at Middlesbrough and at West brom, he did a great job at both clubs keeping west brom in the league on that final day.
    He had a spell in Thailand and with his illness and it took a bit of focus away from the role as a manager. He has an ambassador role with the club now and he's enjoying that, I can’t see him going back into management.
    Mark Hughes was a surprise. Mark was always quiet and you wouldn’t have thought he would want to become a manager. Mark was unlucky again with his choice of jobs and what happened to him at certain clubs.

    Q - Is there one game you wished you had played in?
    A - There was one goal I wish I had scored and that was Rooney’s, his winner against City, that over head kick. I told Rooney about my one like that at rangers only 2 days before that City game, he didn’t believe me!

    Q - Is there one half time team talk that had the most effect?
    A - Half time is the most important time, you have to make sure there is an impact. You think about how you can improve the 2nd half.
    At half time against Bayen Munich, I told them that they would have to walk pass that cup and not be able to touch it, that had an impact on them, it worked.

    Q- What was your biggest accomplishment, the treble or nineteen?
    A - The treble, no doubt about it. 19 was always going to happen. Nobody imagines the treble. It’s only happened once, almost impossible, But this squad has the best chance of achieving it, we have a chance, best chance the club has had since.

    Q - Who gives the best red wine?
    A - Sometimes I have to bring my own! Chelsea is the worst, it’s like drinking paint stripper.
    Tony Pulis always gets the best red wine. I'm always last back on the coach and the players look at me when I’m getting on, I’m staggering!!

    Q - What is your deadline day routine, do you watch Sky sports news?
    A - We always try and do our business early, not buying in January or leaving it late. Berbatov was the last one we brought in late, that was Daniel Levy, always plays the hard ball until the last minute, upping his price, he’s a tough man. Typical levy stringing it all out.
    Nemanja, Cole, Patrice, forlan, saha, they all came in January, but it’s hard to bring players in.
    I can’t watch that sky sports news thing, it’s terrible. Feel for those reporters, they stand there with kids jumping about, jumping all over them, terrible.

    Q - Is there a role for women at football clubs?
    A- We have female staff, admin staff. I've had Diane (law) and Karen (Shotbolt) who help me a great deal.
    (Question asked again, with emphasis ona role in the team).
    I’m not against it, it’s mainly down to qualifications and people being qualified. There are very few openings at man United, we have many qualified people with not many openings.
    We have females working in our sports science and a physio. Chelsea have a female physio who is on the bench and the pitch.

    Q - Why was there no recognition from the FA in 1999, who was the stand out player?
    A - Ginola got it, that was a surprise!
    Cole and Yorke were unbelievable, I was looking for excuses to leave them out but I couldn’t.
    Some great performances and games that year.
    Keane v Juventus was unbelievable, Beckham v inter Milan, the balls he put in. Giggs v Juventus. Scholes v Inter.
    They all contributed that year. Schmeichel played his last season and he was fantastic. Irwin played every game apart from the final (FA Cup).

    Q - Do the fans have an influence on the team performance on Tuesday (Madrid)?
    A- The crowd at United will be up for it. Night games are a big difference, under the lights at old Trafford. They can change the whole game.
    The best noise you hear at old Trafford is from a crunching tackle, its an amazing noise, the crowd love it, I love that noise.
    If they get behind us on Tuesday we have a chance, a really good chance.
    If we get the team I want us to have then we have a chance.

    Q - Any spare tickets for Tuesday?
    A - It's unbelievable, I’ve had people ringing me who I haven’t spoken to in a while, all after tickets. If anyone has 2 tickets I will buy them, it’s impossible to get them.

    thanks to A.


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