Speaking to Harvard Business Review, Sir Alex Ferguson has talking about his winning nature and how he always expected a result from his players, regardless of who was injured or suspended.
“Winning is in my nature,” he said. “I’ve set my standards over such a long period of time that there is no other option for me—I have to win. I expected to win every time we went out there. Even if five of the most important players were injured, I expected to win. Other teams get into a huddle before the start of a match, but I did not do that with my team. Once we stepped onto the pitch before a game, I was confident that the players were prepared and ready to play, because everything had been done before they walked out onto the pitch.”
Ferguson has reflected on the risks he has taken to try and get United the win, whilst also commending our players’ ‘never say die’ attitude.
“I am a gambler—a risk taker—and you can see that in how we played in the late stages of matches,” he said. “If we were down at halftime, the message was simple: Don’t panic. Just concentrate on getting the task done. If we were still down—say, 1–2 with 15 minutes to go, I was ready to take more risks. I was perfectly happy to lose 1–3 if it meant we’d given ourselves a good chance to draw or to win. So in those last 15 minutes, we’d go for it. We’d put in an extra attacking player and worry less about defense. We knew that if we ended up winning 3–2, it would be a fantastic feeling. And if we lost 1–3, we’d been losing anyway. Being positive and adventurous and taking risks—that was our style. We were there to win the game. Our supporters understood that, and they got behind it. It was a wonderful feeling, you know, to see us go for it in those last 15 minutes. A bombardment in the box, bodies everywhere, players putting up a real fight. Of course, you can lose on the counterattack, but the joy of winning when you thought you were beaten is fantastic. I think all my teams had perseverance—they never gave in. So I didn’t really need to worry about getting that message across. It’s a fantastic characteristic to have, and it is amazing to see what can happen in the dying seconds of a match.”