Robbie Savage has dedicated some column inches to Sir Alex Ferguson in his autobigraphy. The former Blackburn, Birmingham and Leicester midfielder spent three years on United’s books as a striker after joining us after his GCSEs. He played up front in the 1992 FA Youth Cup final, which United won 6-2 against Crystal Palace, playing alongside Gary Neville, who was captain, David Beckham and Nicky Butt.
He talks about when Fergie released him from Manchester United, of when he asked Fergie could he get David Beckham’s shirt, and when he moved in next door to Fergie.
1. Meeting Ferguson again was the last thing on my mind as I stumbled out of his office as a 19-year-old reject trying to hide the tears.
I’d thought I would get a 12-month deal, but that didn’t stop the butterflies as I walked towards the manager’s office. The lads were patting me on the back and telling me everything would be fine. I sat down. I was so nervous I could feel my heart pumping and I didn’t have any spit in my mouth.
Ferguson was sitting behind his desk, wearing a red sweatshirt with ‘AF’ on it; I can see him sitting there now. He said: “Robert, you’ve done fantastic since you’ve been here.” And then I knew. “You aren’t ready for here, but you will make it somewhere. One day you’ll come back to haunt me.”
As Ferguson’s words sank in, I felt physically ill, that feeling when you’ve had too much to drink and you lie in bed and the room starts revolving and you want to be sick as quickly as you can.
2. I was playing at Old Trafford and I asked David Beckham for his jersey. “Of course,” replied Becks. “Go and see Albert the kit man.” I tracked down Albert and asked him for the shirt. “Go and see the gaffer.”
I walked to the home dressing room door and knocked. The great man himself was standing there. “Hello, Robert,” Ferguson said. He’d always called me that. “Becks has said it would be OK to have his shirt, and Albert has asked me to check with you.”
“No.” Then he closed the door as my face burned up. It was as if any old Tom, Dick or Harry had asked him. I don’t think he treated me with respect that day.
3. I shouldn’t have been particularly surprised to find Fergie equally remote when I moved in next door: when I joined Blackburn from Birmingham we rented in Cheshire for six months.
I thought he might have come round to say hello, and he saw me walking the dogs most mornings. I used to let them out at about six in the morning. I knew he didn’t like that very much.
We saw his wife, Cathy, who is a lovely lady, and I even had his brother, Martin, around for a cup of tea. But in the six months we were neighbours, Alex didn’t speak one word to me, although he did complain about the dogs barking.
Did Robbie Savage ever consider that maybe Ferguson thinks he’s a tosser, just like everyone else does? Just throwing it out there.