In a TV interview in the United States the former Manchester United manager talks about dealing with Wayne Rooney, turning down Chelsea and falling out with David Beckham
Edited highlights of the former Manchester United manager's exclusive hour-long chat on The Charlie Rose Show on America's PBS networkWayne Rooney
CR What happened to you and Wayne Rooney?
AF Well, I don't think anything really happened …
CR Really? Really?
AF That I would get upset about. He came in the day after we won the league – it's common knowledge, he asked away. It's this expectation thing again. I'm not his PR. I manage a team for what I see on the pitch and at that particular moment he wasn't doing particularly well. But now we see him today, he's got his energy back, he's got his purpose back and he's doing great. So maybe that was a good turning point for the boy,you know.
CR But did it end badly?
AF No, I don't think so. I think if Wayne walked in here today, he would shake my hand.
CR When was the last time you shook his hand?
AF The day we won the league. You know, when he was presented with the cup was the last time. What's unfortunate in this is, internationally, he's a big white hope. So therefore the media's always centred around Wayne. And he has people who advise him and I think that's where all that's coming from. Sometimes I would discipline him but not to the extent that you would think there was some sort of …
CR How would you discipline them?
AF Well, it's set. You fine them a week's wages.
CR Oh yes, like that. But not put them in the line-up?
AF No, no. I wouldn't do that.
CR You never do. That would hurt you?
AF Yes. You see he's back to his form and if in some way I've helped to bring that right then I've done the right thing for him. Make him a winner basically. It's for the team.
CR But it so happened that it became good for him because he had to bring it together.
AF Yes. When the club could very well refuse to sell him, to Chelsea, you realised his only job is with Manchester United and it's brought back his focus, it's brought back his work ethic and his purpose, and he's doing well again.Control
AF Never ever cede control, ever. The point I'm making is you're dealing with very young men and rich young men. And now I always say that because the minute a player becomes more powerful than the manager of Manchester United, it's not Manchester United. You've lost control of the whole club. So I always made sure I was in control because they knew who the manager was. They always knew who the manager was. They know I'm going to make the decisions. They know they can trust me which is really important – trust. And they know I had the ability to adopt the change and they've seen that many times over the years. And I think these are important parts of being in control.Roman Abramovich
AF It's a strange one, Chelsea, you know, the change of managers so many times. But you look at the teams and they have been, the last few years, they've been our main competitor. So it's a very competitive situation between Chelsea and us.
CR Suppose he came to you – maybe he has?
AF There was – he used an agent when he first came and approached me and I said no, no chance.
CR You couldn't do that. No chance. You didn't even want to have the conversation?
CR You didn't want to see what they would offer.
AF No. Manchester is my team, my club.The grass isn't greener
CR Would it have been for you impossible to manage anywhere else?
AF There was one or two offers that came along that time but I always, I always come back to this point. Why would you leave United? What is the bigger challenge? And the thing of the challenge is once you've won something, you can't win enough. Manchester United is a great winner. And that was a challenge. Creating that and maintaining that consistency of winning. It was a mentality that, you know, I've had. Once you know every time we win the week, celebrate the night, the next day's a holiday for me whether we're going forward. And so therefore when clubs came to me and offered me jobs, I thought to myself, where is the bigger challenge? Creating history with United or trying to create somewhere else we have to start again?Gary Neville …
AF Fantastic character. Gary gets up every morning at 6, reads every newspaper. He wants to know what's going on in the world and more about everything, you know. He's such a successful person. He's no genius but he's really good, really good. He's also doing his very own business. I wanted to bring him on the staff. He didn't want to do that – very, very determined character.… and David Beckham
AF Amazing boy. I mean how he's created himself. He's a wonderful boy.
CR How did he do that?
AF Well, he always had a lovely smile, you know, and he always presents himself well. But as a young kid when I got him at 12 years of age, his great desire was to do the best football. He was a fantastic trainer, practised all the time and at night he'd come back with the schoolboys and practise with them. And then of course his life changed when he married the girl from …
CR Spice Girls.
AF Yes. And his focus changed. I just think he was over his head. I don't think he could listen. I always remember he says 'I'm in love' and there was nothing you can do with that, you know. And therefore he lost the focus. But I saw them in Real, Madrid. He did well. And well done. You can't argue with the status he has in life. He's an icon for young people; it represents himself the proper way. And I say well done.Get to the mums
AF The mother's the secret. I say always get the mother because the mothers want what's best. Sometimes they want the best coach because they think that that coach or that manager will bring their son's talent out or daughter. There's always danger with the father. He tries to live his life through the boy, you know. You get a little bit of that. Not all of them. But you do. I've seen evidence of that and therefore the mothers, no, she won't do it that way. She's my boy, I want more of this for my boy.Motivation
AF People get carried away and use superlatives – fantastic, wonderful. I just minimise it to 'well done' I think. The boys get to know that. They know I'm satisfied and then I'm craving to any level I want to take it. Well done. It's fantastic two words.The team ethic
AF Work on aggression, looking at each team member beside you and trust him. And that's the essence of a team where they can understand the qualities and the failures and weaknesses of the team-mates.
CR And accountability too.
AF Yes, absolutely. So if you were in a game of football always think you need maybe eight to win the game. Three can have an off day or semi off day but you always hard. And the players recognise that and they'll do that extra to make sure they get winning. And the next week can be changed around, of course. But that's the essence of the team is to understand and trust each other and to trust me. My team selection … is always difficult because I have to maybe weed five or six players out each week. I always bring them in individually to explain to them why they're not playing. It's not easy because they all want to play. [I say] I could be wrong but I think it's the right team for this game. On other occasions, maybe picking a team for two or three weeks ahead so I maybe leaving an older player for that occasion. And I would say get yourself ready for three weeks from now you'll be playing in that game. So therefore you're giving them a boost.Development
AF I think leadership comes along, there's no question for that, how you control. Everyone seems like a bunch of millionaires, you know. The money in football is quite extraordinary. And you have to control that part. You know, actually to me, they are human beings. Development of character so that when they leave me, they can go anywhere, you know. And I think that is really important part. Once they go in that football field they're playing for all the things you ever taught them – the winning mentality, the determination, how to handle defeat. It's also just as important. And therefore you develop a group of people – you should see yourself in them. And I think I tried to do that all the time. Everyone's different of course. They express themselves in different ways. They have different types of talents of course. And some I would never have the talent they had when I was a player. But I still had that determination to be successful and trying my best.Love and hate
CR It brings me to Harvard Business School. What was the question?
AF The central point of the discussion was love and hate. And do the players love me or do the players hate me, or was there a balance? And, of course, there - it's for respect, you know.
CR So if somebody said they either love you or respect you, you would say respect every time?
AF Yes. Yes absolutely.
CR Suppose they said love or fear. Would you say fear?
AF Fear, I think fear does come in some respects in the sense of when you don't have time for that. I don't hide behind the bush or expect to in terms of lost my temper. But do you know – the cause I had was when I lost my temper I never have brought ever it back again. The next day was another day for me. Never, never hold a grudge. That's really, really important.Head not heart
AF The horrible part of the job really is when you have players who have been with you through the years and evidence is always in the football field, you know. And so when you see a player and then you see the level just start to dip there's no point waiting another two years. You know you hurt him and you hurt yourself because you're the one who recognised that the day has come where he's had his time, you know. And to say that to a player and make the change is very, very difficult. That's the horrible part. You treat them like family you know and then we use – because of your family, it becomes even more hurting in the sense you got to say well son I'm sorry you know you won't be very good. But you can create elsewhere at a different level.Coming out of retirement
AF They always say the odds are 80-1 Ferguson. Good odds, huh? You will be wasting your money. You'll be throwing your money down the drain. I made my decision, the timing was perfect. I went out a winner. There's no way back. I look forward to the challenges of a new life and doing the things I've been waiting maybe 35 years to do. I want to go to the Kentucky Derby. I want to go to the Masters. I want to go to the Melbourne Cup. I want to go to the vineyards in Tuscany and France.theguardian.com
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