rss twitter facebook mobile

What happened at An Evening With Sir Alex Ferguson?

BXsYQlSCUAA0zztLast night was one of five evenings that Sir Alex Ferguson will spend with fans to promote his new autobiography. 1,700 people packed out The Lowry, after tickets were sold out in a record breaking four minutes, with the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, David Moyes, Mike Phelan and Albert Morgan in the audience. Moyes took to his seat a few minutes before it started and chatted with fans whilst others took pictures of him.

Dan Walker from the BBC was the presenter for the evening and before Ferguson made his entrance we were treated to a clip showing the highlights of his United career.

Ferguson then walked out on to the stage and was met with a standing ovation, which then turned in to chants of “every single one of us loves Alex Ferguson” which spread across both tiers. A reasonable amount of time passed and you’d expect the noise to die down, but it continued long past Fergie taking his seat. In the end, Fergie tried waving his arms about, to quieten people down. Eventually, we were quiet.

He started the evening by talking about the early days and accepting the Manchester United job. At Aberdeen he felt he had done all he could do and early on believed that United were the club for him. When he was offered the job, there was some hesitance from his family as they were obviously settled in Scotland. He joked that his son Jason, a United fan, packed his bag straight away though!

Martin Edwards talked to Fergie ahead of his first game about the players he had available and several of them were out injured. He remembered the plane journey home, after losing 2-0, and thinking “Jesus Christ. This is going to be bloody hard work.” He admitted to feeling nervous ahead of his first games, but believed this was normal.

Ferguson also talked about his favourite non-United player in the Premier League, who was Gianfranco Zola. He reflected on his ability to beat players, remembering a particular occasion with Gary Pallister. He talked about how our defender went sliding in on him but Zola managed to shimmy around him, leaving Pallister going so far he “needed a ticket to get back in” the ground.

He then talked in some detail about bringing through the young players and about how John Rudge’s wife was highly critical of the manager’s decision to play so many young players when we met Port Vale in the League Cup in 1994. Neville, Beckham, Butt, Scholes and Gillespie were all the starting line-up, aged 19, and had just 16 appearances between them. Even with a 30-year-old Brian McClair, the average age of the team that lined up was just 22-years-old. Ferguson laughed about how Port Vale were getting to witness history but at the time felt they were being insulted.

He hailed the impact Les Kershaw, recommended by Sir Bobby Charlton, had on their youth set up. United had been battered by City in the Youth Cup before Fergie got the job and straight away they realised that had to be addressed. Fergie singled out goalkeeper Gary Walsh for praise, claiming they could have put ten past us if not for him.

Ferguson also reflected on that opening game of the season in 95-96 when we were beaten by Aston Villa. He blamed himself for going in 3-0 down at half-time, claiming he didn’t get his tactics right. He wasn’t happy with how he opted to line-up the defence against Dwight Yorke and… what’s his name again? Ferguson relied on the audience to remember the name of Savo Milosevic. This was a rare occurrence though with Fergie’s remarkable memory surprising me on several occasions. He remembered the first pass that Eric Cantona ever played (when joking that he could make even simple things look incredible) and the exact details of the goal United had disallowed in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, as well as who was the referee that night (out of interest, it was David Ellery).

Ben Walker then said he had a question relating to a quote from Diego Forlan about how scared he was of the manager, but before he could read it out, Ferguson revealed how he had just been invited to Forlan’s wedding. He is unable to go though. After hearing the quote he joked that he couldn’t have scared Forlan that much if he managed to get an invite to the wedding.

He briefly reflected on Liverpool, after being asked about his famous quote about asking them off their perch (or “fucking perch” if we are to be more accurate”). “Did I say that?” he asked with a smile. There was no mention of Benitez, or Gerrard, or Allen, or anything else that might make the press as upset as they were last week. When asked about how he felt about the criticism he’d received in the papers this week, his message was clear: “I wrote this book for the fans, not the press, so they could understand some of the decisions I had to make.” There was no mention of the Glazers all evening though, something the fans are desperate to understand, and they were likely the reason behind why we couldn’t have a brief Q&A from the audience, the only feature that could have improved what was otherwise a brilliant evening.

Ferguson talked in some detail about his decision to retire and insisted that even if United had won the league the year before, when we were champions for “20 seconds” as he joked, he wouldn’t have retired. The decision to leave United came after his sister-in-law died in October and he didn’t even tell his own brother until the day before he told the players, forced in to an early revealing after his decision was leaked to the press. He said his brother was stunned in to silence on the other end of the phone and accused Ferguson of not trusting him after keeping it a secret. He told his sons in February and was keen to make amends for the first time he announced his retirement. He got the players together and informed them of the news, although last night didn’t go in to any detail of how he did this. Ferguson claimed he felt some guilt about the players he had signed in the summer. He singled Robin van Persie out as someone who had asked how long he was planning on staying at the club for, and Fergie had told him he had no intentions of retiring. That was the truth, but things obviously changed. If United hadn’t won the title last season, he reckoned he still would have retired, but it took some time to give a definitive answer on that one.

When talking about his favourite game as United manager, he immediately responded by talking about that night in Barcelona in 1999. He said that after the semi-final he felt as though United were going to win the European Cup and believed they deserved it after never giving in. Fergie recalled how the decision to sub off Lothar Mattheus changed the game but that didn’t stop a Bayern Munich sub rubbing the trophy before extra-time. “Served him right!” Fergie joked, in reference to what followed.

Martin Keown told Walker that he has very vivid memories of the FA Cup semi-final replay in 1999, when Ryan Giggs scored the best goal the competition has ever seen. Keown could see Giggs coming towards him and decided that if he could get to him before he got in to the box, he’d chop him in half. Unfortunately for him, Giggs got in to the area first, meaning Keown had to pull out of the challenge. He told Walker he stills wakes up in a cold sweat as a result. “Good!” replied the manager.

Ferguson remarked how in that season they gave the players t-shirts to wear in the dressing room. With one league game, the European Cup final and the FA Cup final still to play, they were given shirts with “3 to go” on them. Once the title was won, “2 to go”. Once the FA Cup was won “1 to go” and then “winners” once the Treble was complete.

Walker showed himself up when addressing the manager on how many games he had been in charge of the club for. The fact that it’s a nice memorable 1500 only adds to that. “I should have done my research,” he joked, to which Ferguson replied “typical BBC.”

Looking to the future, Ferguson talked about how he would continue to go to the games as a fan, before joking he probably had to go now he was a director. He reflected on the “agony” of watching us suffer bad results this season, but was quick to talk about the bad results we’d had in the past, particularly in the 96-97 season. United lost 5-0 to Newcastle, before losing 6-3 to Southampton in the next league, then 1-0 at home to Fenerbahce four days later, then losing at home to Chelsea three days later. Fergie didn’t mention it, but we also lost to Juve a couple of weeks later and were knocked out of the League Cup by Leicester the following week. “We only won the league by seven points that year,” he said with a smile.

All of the audience were treated to a signed copy of Ferguson’s autobiography as he left to another standing ovation after 70 minutes of talking. You could have heard a pin drop during that time, with everyone hanging off his every word, as he proved to be charming, interesting and funny. There was no criticism of former players and no major digs at rivals, but detailed accounts of some of the best moments of our lives. He has his flaws, but Ferguson is a remarkable man, and it was a privilege to be one of the few who got to hear him speak last night.


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.

View all posts by Scott »

 

78 Comments

  1. DreadedRed says:

    Enjoy the match Reds!

    Come on United!

  2. John says:

    Come on David Moyes Play like the Fergie boys we will go wild, wild wild….C’mn Reds!!

  3. zibbie says:

    anyone who saw the reserve game please give me a rundown on the players
    and how did Fletcher look?

  4. WeAreUnited says:

    cmon john rget the fuck out of here like chelski boys and we’ll go wild wild wild , wild wild wild

    you have no room here anymore after getting trolled by yourself!
    make a mistake and nobody notices shame on us ( I did notice the first time you responded to yourself) make a mistake twice shame on you! EVERYBODY CAUGHT YOU

    brilliant stuff!

  5. The Truth says:

    @zibbie

    Yes mate from one red to another, here’s the highlights of Fletcher’s comeback http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSrBFH0s_ug

    Fake wannabe reds can thank me for the video later after they’ve finished venting their spleens and calling me a blue troll for having a bit of banter with the only fellow LOCAL reds I’ve encountered on this here blog.

  6. zibbie says:

    I love Fletcher
    thanks for the link
    I saw him in Rooney and the diamond last year they moved in sync I always thought that was the future midfield.

  7. John says:

    @WeAreUnited…keep it up Detective Pussycat.!!

  8. CC says:

    @TheTruth

    There would never be any tough or relevant questions mate. This is all about feeding his ego and bank.He wouldnt want to answer why Jason made all that money or how much he got from Mendez out of the Bebe deal or how much he trousered while assisting the Glazers in their rape of the club.
    Well he left a mess for the anointed one.

    Its ok to blow sunshine up his arse but not ask any questions about the Rock of Gibralter shambles

    “An evening of sucking and licking Sir Alex” would be a more accurate description.

  9. mav says:

    @dreadedred

    I do t get those quotes lol. Is fuckward trying to deflect blame from himeself, and possibly on to moyes? That entire summer summer transfer window still infuriates me, truly shambolic from a pr perspective

  10. Jesper Olsen says:

    @CC if sir Alex left a shambles of a team how come that very same team won the league at a canter last year…. Doesn’t really make sense does it??

  11. John says:

    @CC….hahahahaha..Mate, I just wanted to praise you for being a true red who keeps “Manchester United FC” above any other no matter who/what others may be!!..whether it may be Sir Matt, SAF, Gollum or others (praise them for right, criticize them for wrong) because Manchester United FC is the nucleus above all..Give credit where it is due and, for me, The Truth, King Cantona and CC(you) are the holy trinity of this blog..I thoroughly enjoy your views and opinions and they are straight facts most of the time…and, I am sure all others Red tinted deluded reds accept it, though they don’t want to admit!!..I just want to say, I have got to know insights of lot of issues which i wanted to know myself…keep it up mate!!

  12. WeAreUnited says:

    @john it’s all about your stupidness

    i had a banter with my roommate who happens to be me. idiot.

  13. BigDunc says:

    @ John…slight flaw in your concept of “who keeps “Manchester United FC” above any other no matter who/what others may be!!..whether it may be Sir Matt, SAF, Gollum or others”. You are forgetting that the only reason Manchester United FC has the heritage that it does is due to people like SAF, Sir Matt Busby, etc. In a sense, they are/were the pillars of MUFC. Nobody is bigger than the club, but the club is only big due to that personnel. So in a sense they should be classified at least on par with the club itself. I don’t see how they are smaller than the club that they in a sense created…

  14. Raging Bull says:

    CuntCunt lolol WTF where did you get all that shit from? You fucking moron do you think the newspapers wouldn’t have investigated your rumours and innuendo? Fuck me Fergie received half a million compensation for having his phone tapped you daft twat. Mmmm let me see how did that work out? Oh yeah no shite about Fergie. As for the Rock of Gibraltar, part of Fergies settlement was that he could never talk about it you dickhead. Now that to me shows the Irish Shergar robbing cunts caved in but didn’t want the world to know. I suppose being an ABU cuntcunt you dont even know about the Kanchelskis bung that Fergie handed straight to Maurice Watkins.

  15. zibbie says:

    Wayne you been in North America long enough
    here in the States some big time free agents go to warm weather states with no taxes
    then some will go to Green Bay. for the title town aspect. small town cold weather warm people

  16. zibbie says:

    David will get three of his five targets in the next to transfer windows.
    fierce competition has all spots.
    next year 2 more youngsters step up
    somehow I think Nick Powell will help in the Champions League Run

  17. John says:

    @Jesper Olsen…hahaha, CC nailed you right there!! Ha ha, then why are you backing the excuses of Gollum which contradicts what you believe with such venegence??..my friend, you are a fucking hypocrite!!

  18. zibbie says:

    Wow scene Fletcher play makes me believe in miracles

  19. dazbomber says:

    starting XI: Lindegaard; Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Büttner; Zaha, Cleverley, Jones, Young; Januzaj, Hernandez.

  20. dazbomber says:

    Subs: Amos, Anderson, Rooney, Giggs, Smalling, Fabio, Valencia

  21. The Truth says:

    Lindegaard, Buttner and Young! Three of our worst players all start! That’s got me wondering what is the worst possible team we could field. For me it would be:

    Lindegaard
    Smalling Jones Evans Buttner
    Fellaini Anderson
    Valencia Giggs Young
    Rooney

  22. moysey4pope says:

    sir alex has left himself down in my view all those players who were loyal to him he cut down an made them out to be children the likes of kevin moran who was a loyal player was branded by SIR alex as punch drunk and basically stupid because he went in to tackles too hard for his own good not what you would expect to read after giving everything for your manager and club he attacked everyone bar the glazers who are bleeding the club dry don’t care what ye say look at arsene wenger he wouldn allow this at arsenal he sacrificed his reputation to build the club for the future not too squeeze as many trophys as he could before retiring and leaving someone else to pick up the pieces don’t put all the blame on moyes his hands are tied by saf and glazers

  23. John says:

    @BigDunc…yeah, you are right about sir matt who is equal to mufc if not less..but i don’t think saf is, for the reason that mufc made him more than he contributed by giving him absolute control, time and financial backing (remember rio ferdinand transfer back in 2001 which is slightly lesser than Berbatov after glazers takeover)..so from that perspective he was given a “let it go” if we consider he was found out time and again in europe and won 2 cl trophies in nearly 3 decades!!..imagine him at Real madrid or other top european club, I am sorry to say, he would have been swiftly sacked after a couple of seasons…even Rijkaard, Del Bosque, Heynecks were let go by those clubs…in league he was of course the best but not when tactically shrewd coach like mourinho was there…but he didnot do the club justice by his creating condition for glazer shameful takeover and continuing their support like their most faithful dog..for club after dominating league best thing was to appoint manager with europe in mind but he handpicked a nobody/won nothing to protect his legacy..he retired for cathy but he is still working as glazer employee..I don’t think saf always thought/thinks for mufc more than for himself!!..

  24. Jesper Olsen says:

    @john what the fuck are you talking about where did cc nail me lol bit of a spacer you are

  25. John says:

    @Jesper Olsen…hahaha, you have been consistently backing mr. Dave excuses regarding shortage/quality of players in our squad and calling us with agenda against him..now you reply CC, how come saf left him with poor squad when the same squad won the league last season easily!!..so what does it make you and who is the spacer here??

  26. CC says:

    @John
    Thanks for that mate – its not easy being openly dissenting as there are so many who only want to hear about all the Unicorns and Rainbows at the club – but then you know that already because you get your fair share of zealots who attack you – Its our very own World War Z mate ;)

    It is the true fans like ourselves that aren`t satisfied and who see all the shortfalls in the club including the latter Fergie/Glazer compact. I have never been afraid to make my opinion known and it is easy to defend it because I genuinely believe what I say and make my points fairly and can back them up usually.
    Don`t let the idiots grind you down mate.

  27. Warwick says:

    It was me wot said it!

  28. CC says:

    @Jesper Olsen
    So if he didnt leave a mess then why is Moyes doing so shit ?
    Are we going to say “Transition” ? Well its a hell of a transition to travel an extra 30 minutes drive to work isnt it, doing exactly the same job as he did at Everton is not really a transition from Dentist to Premier League Manager.
    Its a fact – Fergie left too many old players and too many players clogging up the place like Macheda and Petrucci etc ……. they arent that young anymore and either play them or sell them and buy someone to play.

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT BELOW

You must be logged in to post a comment.