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Ferguson: I didn’t allow player power at United

Speaking with Harvard Business Review, Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken about the importance of managers have full control of the dressing room.

“If the day came that the manager of Manchester United was controlled by the players—in other words, if the players decided how the training should be, what days they should have off, what the discipline should be, and what the tactics should be—then Manchester United would not be the Manchester United we know,” he said. “Before I came to United, I told myself I wasn’t going to allow anyone to be stronger than I was. Your personality has to be bigger than theirs. That is vital. There are occasions when you have to ask yourself whether certain players are affecting the dressing-room atmosphere, the performance of the team, and your control of the players and staff. If they are, you have to cut the cord. There is absolutely no other way. It doesn’t matter if the person is the best player in the world. The long-term view of the club is more important than any individual, and the manager has to be the most important one in the club.”

Ferguson has hinted that clubs likes Manchester City and Chelsea, who have had several changes of manager in recent years, have allowed players to take too much power away from the boss.

“Some English clubs have changed managers so many times that it creates power for the players in the dressing room. That is very dangerous,” he continued. “If the coach has no control, he will not last. You have to achieve a position of comprehensive control. Players must recognize that as the manager, you have the status to control events. You can complicate your life in many ways by asking, “Oh, I wonder if the players like me?” If I did my job well, the players would respect me, and that’s all you need. I tended to act quickly when I saw a player become a negative influence. Some might say I acted impulsively, but I think it was critical that I made up my mind quickly. Why should I have gone to bed with doubts? I would wake up the next day and take the necessary steps to maintain discipline. It’s important to have confidence in yourself to make a decision and to move on once you have. It’s not about looking for adversity or for opportunities to prove power; it’s about having control and being authoritative when issues do arise.”

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Cool Goat HOT POTATOE! says:

    Um Rooney anybody??

  2. Costas says:

    Kagawa take note.

  3. In David We Trust says:

    Both rooney and kagwa take note

  4. Marq says:


    The Kagawa quote was translated badly. It was given in Japanese and a few articles have since pointed it out. In fact, if you literally translate Japanese to English word by word, chances are that the sentence will look all messed up.

    I’ve havent heard the interview, so I can’t be sure and translate it. But It wouldn’t be far off if he answered the question of “Why are you not playing gor United?” alone the lines like “You have to ask Moyes” The word please could be from a polite context which Japanese are famous for.

    I believe the translation was bad because of a give away from the next part. The story quoted him as saying “frustration comes in waves”. That doesn’t even make sense. Some translated him as saying “there are ups and downs and he just wants to do his best”

    Just my opinion

  5. ambrose christian says:

    That is we are manchester united,so all big headed personality (players)be warned

  6. Frankie says:

    How would Moyes now be able to drop Rooney after appeasing him?

  7. ambrose christian says:

    That is why we are manchester united,so all big headed personality(players)be warned

  8. Andromeda says:

    To be a Manchester united player, one should at the bottom of the river then dream to have a glimpse at the stars and finally should be humble enough to turn that dream into reality on their own capacities.whoever you are and whatever you are made of, we are in no need of useless ego.give all you have to the jersey you are worn, and we will give everything satisfying to make your soul soar in the sky.

  9. hammed abiola f says:

    don’t Think l will see player ego at man utd. long live sir Alex

  10. Costas says:


    There always seems to be some type of problem with the translation, doesn’t there? Don’t know what he said exactly, but any variation of the phrase “you have to ask Moyes” would be out of line. That’s the kind of stuff that’s bound to draw more attention.

  11. WeAreUnited says:

    Costas and IDWT

    I dont get your points about Kagawa or why did you mention him. he has not implied anything of that he’s ruling the dressroom or that he has the power, it’s more of the opposite.

    so maybe you’re being sarcastic or somehting, because I don’t get the reason you listed kagawa into it.

  12. Proverb says:

    Nani, fellaini, Rooney, now kagawa
    All have a bad history on that issue. In my perspective though, Rooney has so far kept shut, I don’t see why fans can accuse him, it has all been done and over with behind the back doors. hence I’m fucking numb regarding his behavioral history…
    He has been abit smart about it I must say, as he never sucks balls in pitch

  13. kel says:

    Nani? He didnt say anything wrong pls. Since when did he say anything bad about the club? I remember there was once he disagree with Fergie.

    Even when the club didnt give him contract he didnt go around complaining. He didnt mention he wants to leave unlike some player.

    A player born in the country wants to leave the biggest club and yet a foreign player like Nani wants to stay. Give him support!

  14. Sparkz says:

    I’d argue that there were a couple of instances over the last few years where players were either heeded to or allowed to get out of control

    10-15 years ago, if Rooney had pulled an Ambition-gate stunt, Fergie would have got shot of him ASAP

    Likewise, 10-15 years ago, if Ronaldo had done some of the shit we saw from 08-09, I don’t think Fergie would have accepted it, he would have got rid of him

    Modern football perhaps, or maybe it was simply old age. But generally speaking, Fergie had good control

  15. DreadedRed says:

    Good points Sparkz. Fergie did mention a couple of times that his way of handling players changed with the times. His great strength, really.

  16. Nemz says:

    “Proverb says:

    Nani, fellaini, Rooney, now kagawa”

    Dont think Nani should be placed there. he has always been cool despite some issues he has had with the club


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