Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has told how the shock exit of Roy Keane from Manchester United was a sobering lesson for the club’s superstar dressing room.
BBC’s upcoming documentary, Sir Alex Ferguson, Secrets of Success, examines how the Scottish manager masterminded turning a football club into one of the world’s most recognisable brands.
In the documentary, players tell how Fergusons’ legendary hairdryer treatment was a feature of the dressing room but his famous temper was always very short-lived.
The documentary also touches on how the United manager never allowed any player to get bigger than the club — most tellingly in his decision to get rid of Roy Keane in 2005 after a trophy-laden 12 years together.
Rio Ferdinand tells how Ferguson’s sensational decision to red card Keane served as a warning that no player was indispensable.
“The scenario with Roy Keane,” recalled Ferdinand. “There was a video he’d done for MUTV that the club didn’t want to go out, the manager thought it wasn’t right, that it was too disrespectful to the team.
“The next day, he told the players that Roy Keane will never be coming back.
“He was the captain, the best player they’d had for a long period of time. That was for the next generation — don’t think you’re ever bigger than this club, because you’re not, because you’ll go, I’ve just told you the captain is never coming back again. What are you going to do now?”
Ferguson didn’t directly speak about Keane but he said he said he always took in the bigger picture when handling the players. He said: “If they are disrupting the dressing room you have to make the decision ‘is it worth it?’”
Cristiano Ronaldo, gave a vivid description of the Scot’s famous hairdryer treatment. “I remember sometimes when we do something bad or we lost some games he’d kick the chairs and he’d kick the boots, he’d kick everything, the waters, the drinks, and he’s so red and ‘fuck you, you should pass the ball’,” said the Real Madrid star.
“It was unbelievable but it was good — because we learnt,” he added.
But while very few players escaped his wrath, Ryan Giggs said Eric Cantona was never given a dressing down by the manager. “I never saw him have a go at Cantona. The manager knew in the long run he would come good and produce the goods at the right time.”
Ferguson said in the documentary he did treat the French player like a prodigal son especially after his infamous kung fu-style kick at a fan in 1995 which left him with a seven-month suspension.
He said: “He had never given us any indication that explosion was there. But I decided to approach this by speaking to him every day and talking to him about football all the time.
“That’s why the player’s say [he was] my prodigal son but I think he needed different attention. He needed different ways of dealing with him. He was a different guy from everyone else. He was an amazing human being.”
Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success is on BBC One on Sunday, October 11, 10.30pm
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