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Friday, January 09, 2009

RN's Exclusive interview with Sir Alex Ferguson read here

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from Issue 151 of RN out November 2008

To celebrate Red News’ 150th issue last month, in this, our 22nd season of publication, Sir Alex Ferguson agreed to answer eight of our questions spanning his time at United. We also sent him the programme from his very first game in charge - Oxford away in November 1986 - as thanks for all his support for RN founder Teresa McDonald when she was in hospital, either for his own personal collection if he didn’t have a copy, or to auction for a charity of his choice. Taking the time during a busy schedule of games to commemorate Red News’ landmark is greatly appreciated.

RN: Out of all your achievements at United, which has been the most satisfying?

SAF: It has to be winning the league for the first time, it was really the start of what we see today, although winning the European Cup was an amazing achievement.

RN: If you could choose one United game from your time as manager to re-live again, which would it be and why?

SAF: One that sticks out in my mind was when we were at Spurs (in September 2001) and we were 3-nil down - but then we went onto beat them 5 - 3. It was such an amazing turnaround, the fans played their part too in that victory. Great game.

RN: You mentioned to mutv after the game in Moscow that you had some moments with Edwin Van der Sar after the game when you headed to the press conferences inside the stadium, I wonder if you are able to reveal what you talked about, and how did those moments after the game in Moscow compare with those in Barcelona in 1999?

SAF: Mmmm, I really can't remember what Edwin and I talked about! Both occasions were very different although the sudden impact of winning is what catches you, you can't react. In that way Barcelona and Moscow were the same. In Moscow I thought we were dead, then John Terry missed and I thought we have a break here. In Barcelona there were 3 minutes to go and I was thinking what am I going to say to the players? Then we get two goals and we win! I was so stunned. The players were all over the pitch celebrating, I had to go and speak to the TV's so we were all split up, we didn't all get together as a team until a long time after the game. I remember walking into the dressing room but it was so quiet in there, so I went for a walk on my own around the corridors just taking it all in. Moscow was different, it was so wet I think everyone was glad to get in the dressing room! So both occasions were different but still fantastic.

RN: So much at United has changed since November 1986, which do you think is the singular biggest change at the club?

SAF: Two things really, firstly the stadium. You see it now and it has been gutted, we have three new ends and even the old railway side has been refurbished so it's more or less like new. The increased capacity is now fantastic - so that's massive progress. Secondly the playing side, you can see the progress there with the ever growing backroom staff of coaches, medics, sports scientists, etc.

RN: When you first arrived at United, did you set any personal targets and targets for the team itself to achieve over a set timescale?

SAF: No, not really, it was simply to win the league, other managers had failed and I wanted to turn that around. I had no personal targets, it was to win the league for the club and for the fans.

RN: If Sir Alex were interviewing Sir Alex, what one question would he ask?!

SAF: Mmmmm. Tough one, I honestly have no idea!

RN: Every former United player we interview describes the club as a ‘family club’ - how important is that to maintain?

SAF: I got that feeling when I first came. I went around the club and tried to get to know everyone's names. I went to the ticket office, the laundry, the souvenir shop, membership, etc. You could see that people had worked there a long time. I used to go to the Steward's dance, they were fantastic. The steward position was a position that would be handed down through the generations, a family honour. These people were devoted United fans. But that was the past, obviously now with health and safety it can no longer be run that way but it is still a family club and everyone who visits here says the same thing.

RN: You revealed the infamous ‘envelope’ that was mentioned to the players at the start of the 1993/94 season to such success, has any prop like that been used since?!

SAF: Ha ha. Not in that way...just the shotgun! (only joking!).

Interview © RN 2008. (that means credit Red News, hacks). Thanks to Di Law.


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