Thursday 18 December 2014

Gambler Fergie reaped rewards

Published 10/09/2013 | 21:16

Sir Alex Ferguson insists being a 'risk taker' benefitted him in management
Sir Alex Ferguson insists being a 'risk taker' benefitted him in management

Sir Alex Ferguson believes it is his natural gambler's instinct that led to so many late wins for Manchester United down the years.

So often did United score in the latter stages of matches it was almost a surprise when they did not manage it.

The epic 1999 Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich, when United scored twice in stoppage time to turn the game on its head, was the most obvious example.

But, in a series of interviews with Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse in 2012 that have just been published, Ferguson indicated such triumphs did not occur by accident.

"I am a gambler - a risk taker - and you can see that in how we played in the late stages of matches," said Ferguson, who it has been announced is to receive the honorary freedom of Trafford borough..

"If we were down with 15 minutes to go, I was ready to take more risks.

"I was perfectly happy to lose 3-1 if it meant we'd given ourselves a good chance to draw or win.

"So in those last 15 minutes, we'd go for it. We'd put in an extra attacking player and worry less about defence.

"We knew that if we ended up winning 3-2, it would be a fantastic feeling.

"And if we lost 3-1, we'd been losing anyway."

In a unique insight into his managerial philosophy, the 71-year-old, who retired in May having won a remarkable 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies within a record haul of silverware, admitted it was unlikely any manager would benefit from being allowed four years to win his first trophy, as he was in 1986.

Ferguson also stressed the need for any manager to maintain control of the dressing room, something he managed to do at United, often at the cost of the biggest names.

"There are occasions when you have to ask yourself whether certain players are affecting the dressing room atmosphere, the performance of the team, and your control of the players and staff," he said.

"If they are, you have to cut the cord.

"There is absolutely no other way.

"It doesn't matter if the person is the best player in the world.

"Some English clubs have changed managers so many times that it creates power for the players in the dressing room. That is very dangerous."

The last observation would seem to point at Chelsea, although they have been United's closest challengers for the past decade.

In addition, Ferguson claimed one of the best decisions he ever made about his own managerial style was during his time at Aberdeen, when he decided to take a more hands-off attitude towards training, unlike his United successor David Moyes.

Press Association

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