Many stories of Sir Alex Ferguson’s excellent man-management at Manchester United have emerged since his retirement in 2013 and Gary Neville provided another one on Wednesday morning.
The right-back recalled the time he tried to relinquish the captain’s armband at the Red Devils, only for Ferguson to shut him down.
Despite a squad filled with talented stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, Ferguson was keen to prevent any feuds emerging within the dressing room.
That meant refusing to make Ronaldo captain due to a fear of upsetting Rooney, and vice-versa.
“I got injured a year after taking the captaincy and I felt I didn't contribute as a captain should do,” Neville told The Football Show on Sky Sports.
“I went to see Sir Alex in pre-season, we had an amazing team of great personalities and players, and said I don't feel worthy of being captaincy anymore, this team has shifted on to a level that I can’t compete at.
“And he said: ‘You'll keep that f***ing armband, son. You and Giggs will rotate it.’
“He said if I give it to Ronaldo, Rooney will kick off. If I give it to Rooney, Ronaldo will kick off. If I give it to Vidic, Ferdinand will kick off.
“It was for camaraderie, we were the policemen in the dressing room, keeping things together but I felt unworthy at that stage.”
Some managers might have been tempted to give Ronaldo the armband as a way to keep the club’s superstar happy.
But Ferguson wasn’t about to risk damaging the squad’s unity and instead put Neville and Giggs in charge.
Man United’s success under the Scot shows that he didn’t get a whole lot wrong.
His ability to keep a whole group of players united and driven was unparalleled.
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