Sir Alex Ferguson has completed 26 years as the boss of Manchester United. Control and the ability to relax are two of the main reasons he has been able to accumulate titles and enjoy such longevity.
He blends the private side of his life such as horse ownership, going to horse racing meetings and the ability to have a flutter on racing betting markets with the strains and pressures of his managerial career to create a perfect balance.
Ferguson has recently commented on the importance in football of being able to control world class players who are millionaires and who have egos who don’t take criticism well and need encouragement during their careers.
Ferguson told Academics looking into his success:
“There is no room for criticism on the training field. For a player – and for any human being – there is nothing better than hearing ‘well done’. Those are the two best words ever invented in sports.”
Ferguson also speaks of his desire to criticise when it is necessary and where it is needed, suggesting it has to be done instantly so that everyone can move on. He seems to blend criticism in where needed so his players know he’s in control and won’t overlook errors.
“No one likes to get criticised. But in the football dressing room, it’s necessary that you point out your players’ mistakes. I do it right after the game.”
The most important aspect in terms of Ferguson’s success has been his ability to control his players. This ensures they play for him and for the club. Football has been littered of examples where players don’t get on with the manager, think they are above a club and cause trouble as a result.
He suggests that the question isn’t one of him losing control of his players but those players losing control over their own situation and position; cross Ferguson and your career at Manchester United is finished.
“You can’t ever lose control – not when you are dealing with 30 top professionals who are all millionaires – And if anyone steps out of my control, that’s them dead.”
Ferguson also earns the respect and admiration of his players because of the way he protects them. He is one of the best in the business when it comes to keeping young and inexperienced players out of Man Utd news stories and away from the media.
He seems to have changed as football has changed from someone who will dish out the hair dryer treatment to someone who will put an arm around a key or young player to motivate that individual.