Rio Ferdinand says Alex Ferguson led by example

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Rio Ferdinand departed Manchester United after 12 years at the club, to join his former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers in the summer. In his time at Old Trafford, he was under the tuition of one of the greatest manager's of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson.

While there, Ferdinand made 455 appearances for the Reds, scoring eight goals. He won six Premier League titles, two League Cups, the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup.

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He was speaking in a Q&A session with Clare Balding, regarding the influence of the 72-year-old.

Fantastic Fergie

The ex-England defender said: "He was always the first in the training ground and the last out. That work ethic and that desire; if he's doing it, that has to filter through the squad.

"But he was just a great reader of people and a great reader of personality. If you needed telling, he was there to tell you, quicker than anyone else and he'd always have the last word, but if you needed the arm around your shoulder, some players needed.

"You think to yourself, 'how come he never shouts at that guy man, I can't believe it, he played rubbish for the last four games and not said a word to him', but when you look back now you think that's because he knew that if he'd had said something to him he'd have crumbled."

An infamous incident in 2003 involving David Beckham hit the headlines after a half-time argument between the pair allegedly resulted in Fergie kicking a boot across the dressing room, consequently hitting the England legend in the face - but as Rio said, Sir Alex had different way of dealing with different players so perhaps that was at a point where the pair's relationship had become untenable.

Not the same without Sir Alex

Rio explained that even though the manager had retired, it was quite hard to adapt to the change of boss and would always think about how Sir Alex would go about different things.

"Even for myself, I worked out after he'd left, because when he's there you don't work it out, you're just ticking along, you're being quite successful as a team so you just think this is cool, this is all right but when he left you start thinking, 'how would he have done it at this point, how would he have reacted in this situation'."

When a new manager comes in, often it is difficult to adapt to his new ideas and philosophies, and perhaps that is why David Moyes struggled when he came in at Manchester United - the players, some of whom had worked under Ferguson for so long, weren't used to the change. The fact he was replacing one of the most successful British managers' of all time probably didn't help either.

Always wanting to try harder

The QPR man went on to discuss his own personal relationship with his former manager and how he was always pushed to try harder, due to Sir Alex's unwillingness to praise his performances.

"He never really complimented me to my face at all anywhere, because he knew if he did I'd have probably become big balls walking around with a bounce in my step and thinking I was the man and so he always left me with that want to prove him wrong or prove to him that I was good enough," he said. 

Ferdinand is coming to the end of his brilliant career, and at the age of 35, you wonder what is next for the United legend. Just this week he was quoted as saying he would love to manage his old team one day. So who knows, Rio could emulate Ferguson and become a hero in the dugout, just like he was on the pitch.

Manchester United
England Football
Premier League
Alex Ferguson
Rio Ferdinand

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