Rio Ferdinand gave a fascinating insight into what it was like working under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United on the Clare Balding Show.
The former Man United and England centre-back revealed how Ferguson, who won 13 Premier League titles with the Reds, would leave his players shocked and inspired with his decisions.
Ferdinand, who retired in 2015 and is now planning a career in boxing, was asked to explain what he will take from football's finest managers should he ever move into management.
“I think you take a bit from everyone, I think you the people that you’ve been around, you take a bit out of," he said.
“I think Sir Alex Ferguson was the best for me, that I was under, and probably the best British manager of all-time.
“But it wasn’t really until Sir Alex Ferguson left and retired that we realised how good… because it’s on autopilot. You’re sitting there, you’re thinking like, ‘he’s so lucky’.
“He’d sometimes put teams out and we’d be sitting there after going ‘what was he thinking?’
“We all looked at each other when he named the team thinking, ‘How’s he playing?’
“And then all of a sudden we’d go out and that kid would score a goal and we’d go, ‘he’s so lucky. He’s just one of those guys who’s lucky’.
“And then when he left we’d be sitting there in the saunas talking about it and go, ‘you know what actually, the guy was a genius.’”
“He used to just work things out. He was a people man. He’d get a sense, ‘this game is for this guy here, I’m going to play him. His traits will do well for me in this game.’"
How Fergie reacted when Ferdinand got mad
Ferdinand added: “He managed people. Like I wasn’t playing a couple of times and he’d come to my room and if you got a knock on your door in the morning of a game, it was like, you’d go the door with your eyes closed, ‘don’t be the manager, please don’t be the manager’.
“Open the door and he’s standing there, you know you’re dropped.
“So I was dropped for a Liverpool game. I had just come back to fitness but I assumed that I would be fit because I used to play all the time and he said, ‘I’m going to save you’.
“And he came in the room and I was f-ing and blinding a little bit.
“Yeah, ‘what have you come into my room for? Why are you here?’”
“He said, ‘listen son, this game’s come about too soon for you. I had you in the squad.
“‘We’ve got Chelsea midweek, that’s where you’re going to play and you’re going to do well.’”
“So from coming in the room where I was fuming, he left me thinking ‘he respects me. He knows I’m a player.’
“And I go in the changing room and I support the lads and it’s just… the dynamic, the way he leaves you feeling and ready for the next game knowing that he could keep you in tune, keep you involved. It was genius.”
“After he left, you realised what we’d had.
“But now I speak to him probably more now than I did when I played because he couldn’t be mates with you. He said this to all of us. ‘I could never be your mate, I’m your manager. There’s a line.’
“‘I’ll joke with you up to a certain point but that’s it.’”
“Great guy though, what a man.”
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