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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

World Exclusive Sir Alex Ferguson interview transcript - shown in the VIP Forum a week ago

the sort of stuff you see in the RN VIP Forums - this exclusive transcript of an interview Sir Alex Ferguson did with an American radio station was in the VIP Forum last week, we show it to the free site lurkers now so they get a taste of all the delights the VIP Forums offer (you can sign up at

Transcribed by Tom Clare of Red News


Last week, as most of you on this forum know, Fergie was over this side of the pond, taking a break in New York during the international break. Once again he did an interview with Charlie Stillitano from Sirius Radio. I love listening to these interviews because he comes over in a far different mood than he ever is when facing the English press. I've done a transcript of the complete interview for you all... enjoy it.

C.S. “Good Evening Sir Alex and welcome to the show. How are you doing today?”
SAF. “I’m doing well Charlie”
C.S. “What are you doing here in New York?
SAF. “Well, it’s international break of course and a lot of my players are away and it’s a good opportunity for my wife and I to get a little break and I can’t think of a better place than New York.”
CS. “That’s nice, but where’s your favourite place to eat in New York? Lets start there”
SAF. “Well, there’s quite a few I must say, I mean I have been in some fantastic restaurants in the last week, it’s hard to separate them all. I must say what really impresses me is the buzz in the restaurants, everyone is talking there’s a lively atmosphere, and I really do love it.”
CS. “But I was trying to get you to say that my house is the best place that you’ve eaten at in New York.”
SAF. “Well you did say restaurant!”
CS. “Who’s the best cook you know in New York then?”
SAF. “Oh! Without a doubt you are”
CS. “Oh! There you go then.”
SAF. “I’m still waiting on your recipe for Lasagne.”
CS. “Well, I’ll tell you this, you’ll have it with you at the end of this weekend. I’ll make the Lasagne and I’ll leave a little recipe in a scroll signed up for you there.”
SAF. “You told me that last year!”
CS. “Yeah I know …. But I lied last year. This year I’m going to be honest with you! Actually it’s really difficult to give you the family secrets, but I promise you, this weekend you’ll go home with the family secrets”
SAF. “Great.”
CS. “All right, let’s talk a little bit about the squad this year. Erm, you know you lost Cristiano Ronaldo, probably the best player in the world, certainly if not the best, one of the two best in the world right? Er, he was a good goalscorer for you. How do you replace somebody like that?
SAF. “Well Ronaldo, is always on the face of it, must be a big, big loss. His 26 goals last season were instrumental in all our successes. Erm, you know maybe the thing that maybe people are overlooking is the fact that we have so many young players in the squad who are growing up and improving all the time, and you take the case of the two da Silva brothers. Fantastic young players, and Anderson, Nani, Welbeck, Macheda, Gibson, Evans, they’re all young boys, all under 21, you know, and when you get young players with great ability, you see the improvement and so in the summer, we felt that this was a squad that will only get better.”
CS. “Let me ask you this Sir Alex, some would argue, your success, and I’d be one of these people, that you have the ability to recreate a team, to rebuild a team, and a) is that true? And b) how often how often do you feel that you have to do that to stay on top of the world in football and be competitive with the biggest clubs?
SAF. “Well obviously the length of time I’ve been at United it means I’ve had to make change, and managing change is not an easy thing to do – particularly when the expectations are so high. But your judgment, and assessment of situations, and when its time to change, are important. There are some things that are forced upon you, for instance a player’s age, you know, like, when he gets to a certain age and he gets to the point when he’s no longer the player that he was. And it happens to all of us, it happens to all the players, and it’s an unfortunate thing, and it’s a sad thing for me as a coach when seeing some great players coming to the end of their careers, and you have to have a backup for when that day comes along. That’s why the importance of young players in our club is a pre-requisite.”
CS. “ Yes, but it takes a lot of courage Sir Alex I would think, because I’m sure that there are some players like Giggs, and Scholes and you’re more or less telling them that they can keep going and they can keep going. But there are some players who probably don’t want to leave, and I don’t want you to name anybody like, but it must be difficult when you have a guy who’s been loyal for you, and has done well for you, and still feels that he can go on at that top level but can’t.”
SAF. “Yes, and I think that I would agree with you and I think it’s a hard part of doing the job. It’s not a matter of being ruthless, it’s a matter about what my job is to do. My job is to keep Manchester United at the top. But of course at certain times over the years, players have moved on simply because for that particular reason. To maintain the success rate of the club, to keep it at the top, and therefore evolving teams are a vital part of that.”
CS. “The young kids that you have, is there any one, I mean, you see Anderson I have watched him develop over the last few years and it seems like now he’s at the centre of the holding midfielder role. He seems to have really taken a step forward this year. Something Giorgio and I have talked a lot about and this kid really now seems to be hitting his stride.
SAF. “Well we all think that because we have great expectations of Anderson, we think that as you say the age of Paul Scholes for instance, to get a replacement it would be very, very difficult, but we think in Anderson we have a potential world class player. He’s a marvelous personality, he’s got great courage, he loves playing, he loves traihening, he’s got a great, great chance of becoming a top player.”
CS. “But how about this Macheda kid, because any guy, you know, that was with Lazio family, Giorgio rates highly?”
SAF. “Yes, well I’ve got to be careful when I talk about Italian players you know. The thing about Macheda of course is that he had a great first season. He was only 17 when he made his debut, and scored that winning goal against Aston Villa. That projected him into a different kind of profile. Most people hadn’t even heard of the boy. So now we’re having to deal with the improvement of the lad, and he’s got strong, and he’s got bigger, he’s an outstanding finisher, we’re trying to improve parts of his game which will be important for his development as a top player.”
CS. “You know, I saw him last year, you were kind enough to invite me to the celebration party, only we didn’t celebrate, you know the night you lost to Barcelona. But I saw him there and he had two young Roman girls with him, that were both Roma fans, and I think your comment to me when he walked away was; “When I was 17 I had 3 girls!”
SAF. “Ha, Ha, ha, it’s wishful thinking! I did say that to him actually and he was quite impressed.”
CS”. “No, but he’s a talented player but I want to talk about the da Silva brothers, Macheda, Anderson, Nani, these young players that are coming up, you talk about Welbeck, I mean is it your scouting system Sir Alex, that is most important to you, is the interaction between you and your head scouts? I know your brother Martin is the guy that you obviously trust, and what better person to have than your brother to trust, so is that what it is, the scouting system’s the best one.”
SAF. “I think that the most important thing is that my scouts bring me the material to work on. They bring you the raw material most of the time, if it’s a young player like the da Silva brothers that come and join us, we knew all about them when they were just 14 years of age. We got them when they were 17 eventually, and at 18 they were able to get a work permit. You know we looked back to when they were 14 and these two were outstanding examples of the kind and type of player that we need. But that’s only part of the story. I must say, our coaching, the youth coaches, the reserve team coaches, the first team coaches, are all absolutely first class coaches, and I think that when we get the material that we can work with, all these guys can certainly produce.”
CS. “And you said that you met these guys when they were 14 years old, err your scouts identified them, and what is it, you have a scouting outfit in Brazil that sees the players then follows them throughout the years?”
SAF. “Yes, we have a tremendous scout out in Brazil and he’s now got a tremendous lad assisting him, a young lad, and they scour the country obviously. We think that Brazil is probably one of the best areas in which to scout for players. They have got an inherent ability to play all the time, to train all the time, an ethuisism all the time. We see this in the young Brazilians that we have. It’s a fantastic thing to see. When you go to Rio de Janeiro for instance, you go down to the Copacabana Beach, and they’re playing there at what - two in the morning. All sorts of ages, all sorts of size games, you get 20 a side, 5 a side, they just love playing football. And I think when your scout gets the right type of player from Brazil you get the real good one.”
CS. “My problem was that when I went to Rio, and went on the Copacabana, I looked around, I didn’t see any soccer players, I don’t know, I was distracted by some other things going on there, you know.”
SAF. “I think you were in the Mardi Gras!”
CS. “yeah, I might have been in the Mardi Gras, you’re right. Let me ask you, how has it been for you, life without someone like Cristiano for the club? I mean, has it taken pressure off you as a manger or has it created more pressure for you?”
SAF. “ I don’t think it matters which way in the case of Cristiano because he was quite a low key person really. Yes, he had a great confidence in himself, he was a very good lad, the players liked him, I liked him, all my staff liked him, and it’s not as though the loss has been insurmountable. I think we all expected him to leave at one point and I did to. I remember saying to Carlos two years back that we were doing well to keep him so long, because you know, 6 years for a young lad that’s come from Madeira, and then from Sporting Lisbon as a kid, and then staying 6 years at your club is good going, and I think that we just say well done Cristiano and good luck in your career.”
CS. “You mention a guy like Cristiano from Madeira, you know you get a lot of Portugese kids, and the Spanish kids and they obviously dream of playing for Real Madrid, or Barcelona. You get the odd exception like the guy Torres, he grew up with Athletico Madrid, but for the most part the guys are always trying to play for the big two clubs over there. But I would think that you have a great advantage with the kids from Northern Europe and England particularly, because of the great support that United has every year.”
SAF. “Yes, there’s also a cultural likeness too, for instance the Scandinavians have always found it very easy to adapt to the English game and the culture and they all speak perfect English. That’s always been a plus point for us. Obviously we would like to have English players, we must have a good quota of English players coming through the system, because when you look at the likes of Giggs, Neville, and Scholes, they’re the heartbeat of our club. These are the guys that have laid down the template for all future players, not just at the performance level, but also with their loyalty. The length of time that they have served with us and it’s refreshing in this day and age that you can get young men who have committed themselves to the club for such a long time.”
CS. “ Yes, you were talking the other day abut the goalkeeper Buffon from Juventus, and you were saying how much you admired the fact that when they went down to the Second Division, that he stuck with the club. I would think that’s a quality, do you look for that in a young player when you get him as a young guy or does it just evolve, how does that work?
SAF. “I think it evolves, I think that it evolves in certain ways, if they’re local boys it’s much easier of course like Giggs, Scholes, and Neville, but when you get players who join the club like Darren Fletcher from Scotland, and John O’Shea from Ireland, and they’re now the integral type of player that I’m talking about, the Scholes, Nevilles, and Giggs. And they like those before them have become in their way the heartbeat of the new Manchester United, when Scholesy, Giggsy and them have all gone. Loyalty is something that grows in people. You have got the inner course on how you deal with players, of how you treat them, and the type of family club that Manchester United have, it’s much easier for us to do that.”
CS. Sir Alex is here with us, he’s here on holiday with us during the international break. How worried are you every time these teams play? I saw that Cristiano Ronaldo has picked up an injury, and Torres limped off the other day. As a manager of one of the biggest clubs in the world, everyone of your players is an international, how much does that weigh on you or is it just part of the game that you expect?”
SAF. “Well it is part of the game, unfortunately you can’t do anything about it. You know it’s always a grey area between coaches of the league teams of the Premier Division and the English manager or the Swedish manager or the Italian manager, all the international managers have their jobs to do, and we support that. Particularly when it comes to the issues of competitive games, i.e. the European Championships or the World Cup – it’s very important that these players play for their countries. Friendly games are a different matter, I don’t think that anyone agrees with them, if you’re a football coach, a league coach, whereas international managers have a situation that they find themselves in, I think that some of them actually could do without the friendly games themselves, but the FA’s, the Football Associations from every country warn them that sometimes it’s a nice day for them, a nice trip for them, a sunny day, and in some cases it creates good revenue for them. So you can understand it, but I’ve got to the stage where many, many years ago when I first came to United I used to worry about the players all going away, and I remember one case when we were playing Arsenal in the 5th or 6th round of the Cup at the old Highbury stadium, and Bryan Robson got injured in the international game on the Wednesday before, and missed the cup-tie and we lost 2-1. And I would have thought that if Bryan Robson had been there we’d have been okay. I no longer worry about it, I accept it as part of the international scene. I no longer focus on every match that is going on because there are so many players all over the world so I no longer get myself in a twist about it.”
CS. “You’re looking over at England right now, Scotland suffered through a tougher campaign, a very difficult campaign this time around. England I think that this is the best they have ever done, and Ireland is still battling a big match against Italy this coming weekend, and their second place is secured so they’ll be in the play-offs, these are, you know, I want to go to Cappello for a second, a lot of your players play for these teams, I mean, how does it affect the player, for example a player like Rooney, let’s stick with him for a second, how does the international games affect him?”
SAF. “Well it’s not just Wayne, it’s all the players who play at international level. You want them to play in the important international games, it’s important to them and I want them to play. It’s the friendly matches that are the problem, especially when they turn up in March and April. It’s a coaches nightmare especially if you are in the middle of a European campaign and going for Cups and titles. You have all these fixtures and you have the intrusion of a friendly international game in some unknown country, you know, so that is a definite thorn in everyone’s flesh.”
CS. “Right, well let me ask you this question here with the friendly matches, are there any coaches that come to you and say; “hey, listen Sir Alex, I really need to test my players. I would think that a country like the US for example is a country where they don’t often get their players together, you know, they’re scattered all over the world and some of them are not playing at a high level at all, I would think a manager needs to come to you and say; “hey look I really need to have these guys together.” Do you have a little more sympathy for them when something like this happens, or do you say a friendly is a friendly, we shouldn’t be having this?”
SAF. “Well it depends on what time of the year it is. If they come to me in March my answer would be; “Are you joking?” It depends on the circumstance – for instance there are occasions when I’m hoping a player gets picked. For psychological reasons, to give the player a boost, he’s maybe been overlooked. For instance, Michale Carrick at the moment has not been a regular in the England team, and he’s a very, very, good player. But what with Lampard, and Gerrard, players of that calibre in front of him, or should I say competing with him, then sometimes I’m very hopeful that he’ll get picked and show his true self, and that sometimes happens. You have at times a good strong feeling that this could be good for your player.”
CS. “I would think a kid like Fletcher who has really seemed to blossom under you, and the Scottish manager, and he really seems to have hit his stride, especially in the last campaign that they had.”
SAF. “Yes, I think that he is a developing player who’s matured later. When Darren was 16 he was out of the game for about 18 months with an ankle problem. So when you miss those early years, as a professional, it takes a lot of determination to get yourself back on track. Slowly, but slowly, he did that, and now he’s one of our top players.”
CS. “Which manager did you grow up admiring?”
SAF. “I grew up as a kid and Rangers had a great manager, Scott Symon. I actually played for him when I went to rangers, he signed me, he was a fantastic man. Jock Stein though was the man, he was a genius, he was a marvelous manager.”
CS. “And did you model yourself on Jock Stein?”
SAF. “No, but I think I’ll always remember when I was his coach with Scotland. It was for about a year and a half. I used love those Saturday nights with him. We’d meet on the Saturday right after the game in Glasgow at the McDonald Hotel. Jock though wasn’t a drinker, and he wasn’t a sleeper. We’d have pots of tea every 45 minutes, and I’d be listening to him about his great deeds at Celtic, and I’d be saying to him; “I’ve got to take training in the morning”; and bear in mind this was about 4 in the morning! He’d say; “Och, ye’ll get a sleep in the afternoon!” The old masseur was a wonderful old man, Jimmy Steele, and Jock would say; “Steeley, another pot of tea.” You’d be there gone half past five, then stagger to your bed and I’d be having to take training at 10 o’clock! It was great though, it was great.”
CS. “How about your contemporaries? Is there any one you look at and say; “He’s an excellent manager”?
SAF. “Oh we’ve some excellent managers. You’ve mentioned Fabio Cappello, but Arsene Wenger, the work he’s done at Arsenal has been outstanding. I love Ancelotti, I think he’s a good man, he’s done great work, there’s some great managers in our country. Jose Mourihno when he came to Chelsea, he opened everybody’s eyes, especially with his instant success. Of course he’s now at Inter Milan.
CS. “Well Sir Alex, I don’t want to keep you much longer, but you’ve been just outstanding. However, I must ask you just one last question. Would you ever coach a national team?”
SAF. “Not now. I’m 67 – I’m trying to get a rest!”
CS. “You look better than me for God’s sake….”
SAF. “And you’re 75!
CS. “I’m 24 but I’ve been smoking since I was 12. You’re looking at this book here. Footaller’s Football… you signed a copy for us…the Manchester United version. There’s another club’s in red but I won’t mention that book. But you mention here that there’s an all Scottish team that was playing in the English league?”
SAF. “Yeah, Accrington Stanley in 1955, fielded a team of eleven Scotsmen. That was when we were Kings of the Empire then.”
CS. “Well thank you Sir Alex, thank you for your time and good luck to you for the rest of the year and I hope that you do great in the Champions League, the Premier League, and all the other competitions.
SAF. “It’s been my pleasure and pass my regards on to Giorgio. Well done Charlie.”


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