Across his legendary 27-year reign as Manchester United boss, few to have been a part of the Old Trafford dressing room managed to avoid Sir Alex Ferguson's infamous hairdryer treatment. Former United left-back Patrice Evra has revealed that he was no exception - once taking a verbal volley from Ferguson that was actually intended for Cristiano Ronaldo.
The fiery Scotsman was not afraid to aggressively reprimand his players if he felt they were underperforming. A select group, though, were seemingly exempt from this practice - likely because Ferguson realised that it wasn't the best way to motivate them.
"When we were playing Tottenham [in 2007], we were winning 2-0, I was playing one of the best games since I joined United," Evra recalled when speaking about the incident during a recent appearance on talkSPORT.
"At half-time, we came back in the dressing room, Ferguson didn’t speak for four or five minutes. When he doesn’t speak straight away, you know someone is in trouble.
"Everyone is saying, ‘Patrice – you’re on fire’, but Ferguson looked at me and he said, ‘Patrice – are you OK?’
"I say, ‘Yeah’.
"He said, ‘Are you tired?’
"I said, ‘What?’
“He said, ‘Why did you pass the ball back to Edwin van der Sar?’
"I said, ‘Because I didn’t have any solutions, I just passed one ball to the goalkeeper’, and he gave me the most unbelievable hairdryer.
"He said, ‘If you do that again, you’re going to watch the rest of the game next to me, this is the worst you’ve ever played since you’ve been with United!’
"I stood up and he was in my face spitting. His face was there, with his vein. I would argue injustice but I would never answer back in front of my teammates because I respect the authority."
Evra may not have reacted to his manager at the time, but he did go in search of answers the following day when he went to speak to Ferguson in his office.
Upon his arrival, Evra was greeted by a "really happy" Ferguson, who explained that the motivation behind his half-time outburst was actually the showboating of Ronaldo.
"Patrice – you were the best player on the pitch," Ferguson admitted. "But Cristiano Ronaldo was starting to do his skill - and other players were missing chances. When you play for United and you score one, you have to score the second, the third, the fourth," he told Evra.
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The Frenchman then jokingly replied: "But boss – why me? Be careful, boss, because this time it was a really close one’.
"And he said, ‘Get out of my office, F, F, C’ – I won’t say the words he used. I was like, ‘wow’.
"But when I closed the door, I realised he just used me to send a message to the team, to make sure we respect Tottenham and make sure we scored goals.
"That’s the kind of relationship I had with Sir Alex, he knew I could take the fire.
"That was the only moment I got the hairdryer, and I couldn’t understand why.
"He gave the hairdryer to so many people, even some players, some big players and they cried. I won’t mention any names!".
Evra, who worked under Ferguson for seven of his eight seasons at the Theatre of Dreams, remains close friends with the Scotsman to this day, describing him as "more than a manager". However, you can absolutely appreciate why Evra might not have been Ferguson's biggest fan after receiving an undeserved dressing down in front of his teammates.
Having heard the explanation, he probably wasn't too happy with Ronaldo, either. With that said, United did go on to lift the Premier League trophy at the end of the season in question, making it tough to take issue with Ferguson's unorthodox methods.
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