Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed the secrets behind his long-term success at Old Trafford.

The Scot was speaking to academics at Harvard Business School in Boston where he revealed the thought processes he went through to try and get the best out of his players.

Ferguson recently completed 26 years at the helm of the club and he gave a fascinating insight into his work at Manchester United.

He described modern footballers as more “fragile” than those he encountered at the start of his managerial career and also revealed how he dealt with these differences.

“Players these days have lived more sheltered lives, so they are much more fragile now than 25 years ago,” he is quoted as saying by The Mirror.

“I was very aggressive all those years ago. I am passionate and want to win all the time.

“But today I’m more mellowed - age does that to you. And I can better handle those more fragile players now.”

Despite admitting he was less aggressive, Ferguson insisted he had not lost his ruthless touch when it came to deciding whether one of his stars needed to be shipped out.

David Beckham and Jaap Stam were famously shown short shrift after falling out with him, being shipped out of Old Trafford soon afterwards.

Ferguson feels control over his players is all-important and said, for him, there was no going back once he was not convinced he had it.

“You can’t ever lose control - not when you are dealing with thirty top professionals who are all millionaires,” he added.

“If they misbehave, we fine them, but we keep it indoors. And if anyone steps out of my control, that’s them dead.”

Application was another area where Ferguson believes there can be no compromise and demanded all his players show the requisite desire for hard work.

“When I work with the biggest talents, I tell them that hard work is a talent, too,” Ferguson added.

“They need to work harder than anyone else. And if they can no longer bring the discipline that we ask for here at United, they are out.

“I am only interested in players who really want to play for United, and who, like me, are ‘bad losers’.”

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