Sir Alex Ferguson has given an interview with Inside United about a whole range of topics. Asked questions by celebrity fans, Fergie talks about City, his most admired former players, and even about the bloody Spice Girls!
Usain Bolt, athlete: Who is the quickest player you’ve worked with?
Gary Pallister would have taken some beating in a sprint. But speed in football isn’t about running 100 metres on a football pitch. In a football sense, I’d say Kanchelskis and Giggs, particularly when he was younger.
Denis Law, former United striker: When you retire from United, probably in another 20 years, would you accept the Scotland job if it was vacant?
No. I won’t turn to international management. When I’ve finished here, I deserve a rest. I’ll be off to my wee butt and ben [holiday home] for a complete rest. After here, I’m finished.
Simon Le Bon, singer (Duran Duran): You seem to be the object of more public speculation and criticism than any manager before. How does it affect you?
It’s part of the job when you’re manager of Manchester United. It’s not just me, either. Look at the criticism Ronaldo gets, the best player in the world. He only has to have half a bad game and he’s slaughtered. Cantona got it, he got slaughtered for ages. You have to accept it’s part of the package. It doesn’t bother me one bit.
Mickey Thomas, former United player: What was the turning point in the early part of your United career?
I always felt having a youth programme was important. That was the foundation we built at this club. We held trials every week up at Albert Park in Salford. I remember saying: “I don’t want the best boy in their street. I want the best boy in their town.” We worked really hard at the youth and you could start to see the fruits of that after 1½ years. In those days, you could have trials all the time, but not now. We’d have the kids in for two or three weeks in August, two weeks in October, a week in December, two weeks in March. That way we got all the best young kids and trialling all the time. It was hard work.
Meanwhile, I felt that the first-team squad was too old to carry on challenging and we had to start changing that. In 1989, I decided to do that. I brought in five players and we sold off about eight — Paul McGrath, Norman Whiteside, Gordon Strachan, Jesper Olsen, Peter Davenport, Chris Turner and Graeme Hogg. We gave a free transfer to Kevin Moran, Frank Stapleton and Mick Duxbury. We started to build a new team. But the biggest thing was the youth development, it was starting to progress.
Eamonn Holmes, TV presenter: Who is the best manager in the Premier League in terms of man-management and making the most of their resources?
Oh, that question’s a belter. Brucey’s done a great job with his resources . . . Martin O’Neill has done well with his . . . Arsène Wenger . . . it’s difficult to assess Wenger because he spends a lot of Arsenal’s money on youth players and their salaries instead of on a big player. David Moyes has done fantastically well. I’ll go for him, David Moyes, definitely.
Pete Boyle, fan: What was the harder decision — leaving out Jim Leighton for the FA Cup Final replay in 1990 or Park for last year’s Champions League final?
Park Ji Sung, without doubt. Once I’d made my mind up about the starting XI, my subs had to protect the midfield, the back four and the forward line. I felt if you’re going to put a forward on in the European Cup final, you need somebody who can make an impact, someone who can get you a goal. So that was why I left him out. I felt terrible about it, but after the game his parents were great towards me.
Thomas: What has been the key ingredient for maintaining your success?
I’m at the right club, where everybody understands that success is important. You know what your challenges are every year. Once we won that first league title in 1993, it opened the door for us and it’s been nothing but progress since. The progress hasn’t necessarily always been on the football field — there’s been a big development in the medical department, sports science, a new training ground. As you win a title, the demand gets greater. We’ve not lost the hunger to win. That’s important. That permeates right through the club.
Dominic Monaghan, actor (Lord of the Rings): What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen in training?
The most amazing thing is Paul Scholes, in the morning, when a player goes to have a pee at the side of the training pitch and he fires balls from 40 yards right on top of their head! He got John O’Shea about two weeks ago, right on the shoulder. He got Gary Neville right in the head and Neville chased him across the pitch!
Ken Doherty, snooker player: Who would you co-star with in a film?
If you go back to the old movies, I’d say Spencer Tracy. He was fabulous. John Wayne, everybody loved him. Present day? Sean Connery, without a doubt.
Angus Deayton, TV presenter: Which player, past or present, would you most like to spend an evening with?
Denis Law was my hero as a player, so it would have to be him.
David May, former United player: What would you rather have — two more European Cups and three more league titles or Scotland to win the World Cup?
I’ll settle for two more European Cups and three more titles. Scotland have got their own problems!
Nicky Byrne, singer (Westlife): Who do you prefer — the Spice Girls or Westlife?
You must be joking! They’re not that bad are they, Westlife?
Kielty: How many more millions do Manchester City have to spend before they can realistically challenge . . . for the Carling Cup?
Oh God, Patrick, this one will get in the press. Patrick, I hope it’s trillions before they get to be as big as us!