Has Sir Alex hung up the hairdryer?

Manchester United Press Conference

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Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed for the first time the secrets of how he became the most successful manager in British football history.

The Manchester United manager opened up and provided a fascinating insight into his 26-year career at Old Trafford.

Ferguson, who will be 71 on New Year’s Eve, collaborated with academics at the prestigious Harvard Business School in Boston studying his management style.

He wanted to pass on his blueprint for managing one of the biggest sport clubs in the world and a global brand.

The ultimate decision maker, chief executive David Gill summed it up when he said: ‘Steve Jobs was Apple. Sir Alex Ferguson is Manchester United.’

The in-depth study by Professor Anita Elberse and Tom Dye – titled Sir Alex Ferguson: Managing Manchester United – reveals his blueprint for planning the season, match-day rituals, the players he targets, keeping control of the dressing room and the mistakes he made.

The study also shows how he prepares his team, the way he conducts his team-talks and how he changes a game’s direction at half-time.

Ferguson said: ‘I like to tell different stories, and use my imagination. But generally, it is about our expectations, their belief in themselves, and their trust in each other.

‘I remember going to see Andrea Bocelli, the opera singer. I had never been to a classical concert in my life. But I am watching this and thinking about the coordination and the teamwork, one starts and one stops, just fantastic.’

Ferguson also spoke about his ruthless streak in dealing with players.

He said: ‘We fine them, but we keep it indoors. You can’t ever lose control — not when you are dealing with thirty top professionals who are all millionaires. And if anyone steps out of my control, that’s them dead.’

But the Scot admitted he had been forced to change his approach during his time at Old Trafford,

‘Players these days have lived more sheltered lives, so they are much more fragile now than 25 years ago,’ he said.

‘I was very aggressive all those years ago. I am passionate and want to win all the time. But today I’m more mellow.

‘And I can better handle those more fragile players now. There’s all this hype about hairdryers and anger and so on.

‘You can’t always come in shouting and screaming. That doesn’t work.

‘But there’s another side to it, which is more in terms of how I have fostered relations with people and developed the team over the years.

‘For a player – and for any human being – there’s nothing better than hearing ‘well done’. Those are the two best words ever invented in sports.’

Ferguson admitted he was on a mission after losing the Premier League title to Manchester City last season

He said: ‘Another day in the history of Manchester United, that’s all it was. It created the drama that only United can produce. Who would have thought that Blackburn, being bottom of the league, would beat us 3-2 at Old Trafford? Or that Everton would draw with us when we were up 4-2 with seven minutes to go?’

He knew the dynamic of the ‘Manchester derby’ had intensified, however, and that this latest challenge could not have hit any closer to home.

He added: ‘I’ve still got a wee bit of anger in me, thinking of how we threw the league away last season. My motivation to the players will be that we can’t let City beat us twice in a row.’

Ferguson also visited Harvard to take a class on management.

‘The part of the discussion from which I learned the most about myself was when they were discussing the balance between ‘fear’ and ‘love’ in my approach to managing people.

‘If you look at my history, there’s all this hype about hair-dryers and anger and so on.

‘But the students acknowledged another side to it, which is more apt in terms of how I’ve fostered relations with people and developed the team over the years.’

Read the entire story at The Daily Mail here. Meanwhile, we have also provided Sir Alex’ 5 leadership lessons, sourced via Management Today. In addition, you can go over TKTG’s coverage of the footballing philosophy of the Man United manager.

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