Sir Alex Ferguson‘s ability to mould young players into global stars is legendary.
A man who favoured a long-term approach and constantly tinkered with his team in order to ensure they could consistently challenge for the biggest trophies in the game, Ferguson’s ability to see the bigger picture was legendary.
Indeed, such was his ability to spot a youngster – as well as his desire to work with them – Ferguson reportedly adopted quite an interesting tactic when trying to recruit.
Darren Fletcher, another man who was developed into a leading European star, recently revealed exactly what that was.
These days, Old Trafford might seem like the obvious choice, but this was a Newcastle side regularly enjoying Champions League football in the days before Mike Ashley sucked the soul out of the club.
Such was the stature of the Tyneside giants, a young Fletcher was indeed tempted by the prospect of the relatively easy move across the border.
Ferguson, however, was having none of it.
Speaking on the Lockdown Tactics Podcast last year, Fletcher talked of Ferguson’s reaction to hearing this young prodigy might be moving to St James’ Park.
“I had been going to United from the age of 12 and Newcastle at this point were the second-biggest team,” he said.
“Everyone is telling you, ‘look at all of these great Man United midfielders you’ll never get in the team, difficult to break through, Newcastle is closer to home.
“So the word gets back to Sir Alex and he phoned the house one night and my sister picked up the phone. ‘Here, Darren. It’s for you’. It’s just the boss going absolutely mental.
‘My mum’s looking around the house thinking, ‘I’ve not done the housework, I’ve got loads of washing’. She goes, ‘no you’re not, they’ll come down and see you’.”
“I’m 15, just chalk-white and he’s f’ing and giving it to me down the phone. My mum sees me and grabs the phone and listens for a few seconds and goes, ‘don’t speak to my son like that ever again’, and slams the phone down.
“So the next minute the phone rings up again, it’s Sir Alex: ‘really sorry, Mrs Fletcher but we really like your son, I’m coming up on the next flight to Edinburgh’.”
Over 200 appearances, five Premier League titles and a Champions League win later, it’s pretty obvious Fletcher made the right choice.