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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Fergie Radio Interview an overview by Tom Clare

Driving home last night from work, I had the "Sports Show" on the Sirius sattelite station, channel 125. It's a two hour programme hosted by a couple of guys that get right up my nose (Charlie Stillitano (Sillyarsole), and former Italian player Giorgio Chinnaglia), but I listen to it because sometimes there are some interesting interviews on the show.

Last night they had Fergie on for about 25 minutes, and it is probably the best interview that I have ever heard him give. Probably because he was dealing with the media pack in UK he felt that he could relax and didn't need to be on his guard. You could tell from the tone of his voice how much at ease he was. But it was very enlightning and he told a few stories that I don't think that he would ever have let the uk press gang hear.

He was telling the story about when he first arrived at the club, that he told Martin Edwards that until they got a solid central defensive partnership that had real consistency, the team would go nowhere. He also said that the scouting system that he inherited was woeful, and that he had to get rid of 99% of the people that were involved, and then had to restructure it completely. He pinpointed having Robson, and the signings of Bruce, Pallister, Hughes, and Ince, as the meat around which he could build. He went on to say that to have consistent success the backbone of the team had to be solid, and by that he meant that a team must have real consistency in the triangle of goalkeeper and centre backs, plus the central midfielder and central striker.

Sillyarsole asked him who in his time at United was his best signing. It was interesting - he mentioned Cantona, Schmeichel, Ronaldo, RVN, but he reckoned probably the most influential signing, given that he got 12 years service out of him, was Roy Keane. Fergie said to see him at close quarters and to work with him and see the influence that he had on the other players around him, made every penny of the money that he paid for him worthwhile.

Chinnaglia asked how did he manage to keep his drive, determination, and passion for winning things as enthusiastic as he does. Fergie's answer was that first and foremost, he was at the right club - he said there is not another club like it. He then went on to say that during his time at United he has gathered around him a very good nucleus of staff - people he trusts implicitly - most have been there a minimum of 15 years, a lot of them 21 years. He can trust them to do their jobs which allows him to do his own job without the distractions that managers at other clubs have.

He was then asked how he prepares the team for games, and his answer was surprising to me as I don't think that he would have told a British journalist what he told Chinnaglia. Fergie said that the planning for games starts a minimum of two weeks before the match is played - he said that there is a lot of forward planning done looking at the forthcoming fixtures. He said; "For instance, two weeks before the Chelsea game was played, I called Ryan Giggs into the office to tell him that he would be playing central midfield in that game. It gave him two weeks to prepare for what I wanted. This is the sort of specific planning we do."

Sillyarsole asked him how did he keep so many players happy, particularly the midfield players. Fergie's answer was classic - "Success! Success keeps players happy - no matter how many games that they play in a successful set-up, they all like to feel that they have played their part. It's hard to tell a player that he is not playing - they all want to play in every game - but in this modern day, that's just not at all possible. The one thing I have always done though, is to personally, and on an individual basis, talk to a player who I have had to leave out, first - before I announce the team. As regards the midfielders I have, it's a wonderful situation to be in, and it gives me options - the beauty is that other teams can never accurately guess who is going to be in there. When you take it over a season, everybody normally gets their fair share of games."

He was aksed about bringing players through from the Academy and he said that nothing gives the club greater pleasure than seeing a local kid come through the ranks and make it. He lavished praise on the Neville's, Butt, Beckham, Scholes, Giggs, and said that the local lads really are the heartbeat of the dressing room. He eulogised about Giggs and held him in such esteem saying that he was the absolute perfect roile model for a player. He confirmed that both Scholes and Giggs would be given another year's contract.

Asked what would be his all time United team, he just laughed and then went on to tell of Paul Scholes selecting his team in the programme for the Tottenham game. Fergie said that it was funny to see the looks on a lot of the foreign lads faces as Scholsey had selected all of his mates!

Chinnaglia asked him about Beckham and the situation between him, Milan and Galaxy. Fergie said, that whilst he understood why Becks had gone to Galaxy, he said that he thought that the lad had to be selfish, because the opportunity to play regularly at one of Europe's top clubs may well never come around again for him. He said that at 33 he still had a few years at top level left and he should grasp the opportunity.

The subject of the European tie with Inter came up and the question was asked; "Do you have any special plans for Jose?" SAF replied "Yes, maybe a glass of poor wine!" He went on to speak about Cappello and said what a nice guy he was - he also let it slip that he would be having dinner with him on February 5th.

The final question posed was did he think that United could win all four major competitions? His answer was an emphatic "No!" Fergie said that to do that United would need an awful lot of luck and that you had to keep all of your players fit and well and away from suspension. A little quip came out and that was that as long as you're still in competitions, you had chance. However, he reiterated though that to win all four was unrealistic.

It was a great interview to listen to and I only wish that there was a podcast around of the programme that you could all tune in to.


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