Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that his biggest mistake at Manchester United was announcing his retirement from management at the start of the 2001-02 season.
The legendary coach, who managed the Red Devils between 1986 and 2013, believes his decision to announce his retirement affected the mentality of both his staff and his players.
Ferguson, of course, ended up reversing his decision to retire. The Scot stayed at Old Trafford for another decade following talks with his family and ended up winning another six Premier League titles, three League Cups, the FA Cup and the Champions League.
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“It's important to listen to your staff. In 2005, that period we didn't win anything, just before that I had an attempted retirement, and I think that affected everyone,” Ferguson told ESPN, according to Goal.
“It was a mistake, and my wife and my three sons changed my attitude towards it and I started to think.
“The biggest mistake I made was announcing it at the start of the [2001-02] season, and I think a lot of them had put their tools away; they thought, 'Oh, the manager's leaving,' but when I changed my mind in the January, I started thinking about United again and how we could get back on top.
“After that is when [Wayne] Rooney and [Cristiano] Ronaldo came to the club and we had to regenerate everyone. The youth side of it, the scouts; we'd gone to sleep. Strangely enough, the period from there on has been glorious; it's been fantastic with the numbers of league titles we won.
“The moments you don't win anything register very strongly with Manchester United.”
Ferguson arguably made bigger mistakes
It could be argued that Ferguson made bigger mistakes during his 26-year tenure, such as his decision to sell Jaap Stam in 2001, or failing to hold down Paul Pogba, or perhaps purchasing Bebe for £7.4 million in 2010.
But his decision to announce his retirement in 2001-02 created uncertainty at Old Trafford - and is perhaps why the Red Devils finished third in the Premier League table, 10 points behind Arsenal, that season.
Ferguson handled the situation very differently in 2013, the year he did finally walk away from Manchester United.
Only after winning the title did Ferguson tell the world that he was stepping aside. He even helped the club choose his successor - although the less said about that, the better.
Manchester United fans: what was Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest mistake at Old Trafford? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!