Fascinating quotes from Eric Steele, Manchester United’s former goalkeeping coach, have been doing the rounds today.
He’s explained the process that Sir Alex Ferguson and himself went through to bring David de Gea to Old Trafford from Atletico Madrid back in 2011 (read more about that HERE).
But Steele also made an interesting point about Ferguson. He pointed out that the legendary Scot only missed two matches during his 26-year tenure as United’s manager.
“I can only remember Sir Alex Ferguson missing two Manchester United matches,” Steele said. “He missed a Manchester derby in 2000 for his son’s wedding. The other time? To scout David de Gea.”
But what happened in those two Man Utd matches that Ferguson wasn’t present? Let’s take a closer look.
Match 1: Manchester City (a) | November 2000
The first match was, as Steele points out, against Manchester City back in November 2000.
Prior to the match, Ferguson told the Sunday Express, per the London Evening Standard: "I looked at the international fixtures for the season and originally, back in February, November 18 was down as an international date.
"My son went for that date for his wedding only for the fixtures to be changed.
"We found out that instead of having a free weekend, we are playing Manchester City - it couldn't have been any worse for me.
"The wedding is in Cape Town so there's nothing I can do. Steve McClaren will be in charge.
"The only consolation is that with it being a morning kick off, I will be able to watch the game in South Africa on television."
Despite Ferguson’s absence, United won the derby, which took place at Maine Road, 1-0 courtesy of a magnificent David Beckham free-kick after just 95 seconds.
Match 2: Scunthorpe United (a) | September 2010
Ten years later and Ferguson missed a Carling Cup match against Scunthorpe United.
It was initially reported that Ferguson left Mike Phelan in charge of proceedings in order to watch forthcoming Champions League opponents Valencia.
However, it was later discovered that the legendary British coach was actually on a scouting mission to run the rule over Atletico’s talented young goalkeeper De Gea.
But once again, United won without Fergie.
The Red Devils went 1-0 down in the 19th minute but scored two goals before half-time through Darron Gibson and Chris Smalling.
A Michael Owen brace and another goal from Park Ji-Sung had put the visitors 5-1 up at Glanford Park with 20 minutes to go, before Scunthorpe netted a consolation in stoppage time.
“We put a big value on the Carling Cup. We've never set out to demean the Carling Cup,” Phelan told reporters, per the Daily Mail, after United’s 5-2 win. “We're holders, we've done that two years in a row and you can see from the players' attitude that we want to keep hold of it.
“It's important after the Rangers games that we prepare properly and get a good view of Valencia, who've started their season very well.
“He chose to go and watch the Valencia game. We need to go there knowing what we're up against. He's the manager and he had to make a decision.”