Sir Alex Ferguson’s recently-released autobiography caused quite a few stirs. The Scot was never scared of making himself heard when he was a manager and he certainly hasn’t lost that fire now that he’s retired from active management.
Despite his legendary temper, his players held him in the highest respect and even admired him. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the manager. He managed to fall out with quite a few of his players, many of whom were his trusted lieutanents. Let’s take a look at 5 big-name players he fell out with during his time as Manchester United’s manager:
1) Paul Ince – The Guv’Nor was a massive presence in the England and United dressing room and was one of Fergie’s key men in midfield. However, the two never really saw eye to eye with each other. Ferguson wanted to assert his own influence in the dressing room, which Ince saw as being disrespectful to him. They supposedly had a row after a 4-0 loss to Barcelona. Sir Alex believed Ince was a ‘bottler’ and a ‘big-time Charlie’ and eventually sold him to Italian club Inter Milan. He was one of the first big-name players Sir Alex fell out with, and he certainly wouldn’t be the last.
2) Jaap Stam – The Dutch centre-back was a regular at Manchester United during his three seasons at the club and won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the Champions League. However, he was controversially sold to Lazio when he said in his autobiography that Sir Alex Ferguson tapped him up i.e. approached him to talk to him about a transfer without PSV knowing about it. Ferguson believed that it was good business but later admited that selling Stam was the worst decision of his career.
3) Ruud van Nistelrooy – The Dutchmen is undoubtedly one of the best foreign players to have graced the Premier League (and there have been many such players over the years). He was one of Ferguson’s favourite players, and the manager even backed him during his injury-riddled 2004-05 season. However, it was one stray comment that led to him falling out with Fergie. After a bit of a training ground confrontation with Cristiano Ronaldo, he told the Portugese youngster to ‘go crying to your Daddy’ a.k.a Carlos Queiroz, United’s assistant manager. Fergie saw it as disrespectful to Ronaldo given that his biological father passed away earlier that season and eventually sold the Dutchman to Real Madrid.
4) Roy Keane – The hot-headed Irish midfielder is still considered a legend at Manchester United and will go down as one of the best defensive midfielders of his generation. He was Fergie’s main man; his captain. However, he was bound to cause some trouble with his outspoken nature. The beginning of the end was when he publicly slammed players like John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher, Alan Smith, Keiran Richardson and Rio Ferdinand after a 4-1 defeat to Middlesborough. He was released from his contract and signed for Celtic. Despite the fall-out, he was given a testimonial match by United.
5) David Beckham – No list of this sort would be complete without the inclusion of David Beckham. The English right-midfielder was one of United’s biggest stars and was a regular during his time at the club. However, he supposedly started having problems with the manager when Sir Alex felt that his head wasn’t in his football. Tension between the two was rife for a long time and came to a head when Ferguson kicked a boot at Beckham, causing him to get a cut above his left eye that required stitches. Beckham was eventually sold to Real Madrid.