During Sir Alex Ferguson’s time as Manchester United manager, he was famous for his mind games.

His subtle comments provoked rival managers and players into losing their cool, most famously in the case of Kevin Keegan’s "I would love it, love it, if we beat them" outburst way back in 1996; a quote which eventually got voted the most famous of the Premier League era.

Ferguson gave a masterclass in communications when Wayne Rooney threatened to leave the club in 2011.

Rooney’s public discontent with life at United led to a media storm, and Ferguson handled it like a master.

In a lengthy interview, Fergie subtly manipulated the world’s media into portraying him as the victim of the situation, and they didn’t even know they were doing it. 

Ferguson appeared broken and downbeat with the attitude of a man whose wife was leaving him for another man; by the end of the conference, he referred to Rooney only as ‘the boy’.

The media soon turned on Rooney and portrayed him selfish and unreasonable - days later Rooney signed a new five-year contract at United.

For some, his mind-games against Manchester City came back to haunt him in 2012; Fergie previously saying: "Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour.

"You cannot do anything about that. They will always be noisy. You just have to get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder."

Ferguson had the last laugh though, by winning back the league title before retiring as a champion.

In the process of retiring, Ferguson also had the last laugh, by managing to outlast one more City manager as Roberto Mancini was sacked just a year after winning the title.

Many believed that Fergie had met his match for mind games when Jose Mourinho joined Chelsea in 2004.

The two managers battled for supremacy for Mourinho’s three years in charge at Chelsea, with Ferguson famously remarking: "I’d take his insults a lot more seriously if he could pick a decent bottle of wine."

Ferguson looked to have got the better of Mourinho when he was sacked, but Mourinho came back to haunt him in last season’s Champions League as Real Madrid knocked United out.

Mourinho had long been touted by the world’s media as a replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson, and reports in the Spanish media last week suggested he wept when he found out he didn’t get the job.

Whether or not that is true is another thing, but Ferguson seems to have got the last laugh over Mourinho.

Ferguson today claimed that Roman Abramovich had approached him about becoming Chelsea manager way back in 2003, one year before Mourinho was appointed.

In other words, Fergie is just letting Mourinho know that he was never number one for the Chelsea job.

Even in retirement, Fergie is still at it.

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Topics:
Football
Manchester United
Chelsea