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The 50 greatest Sir Alex Ferguson quotes

Fergie's best words of wisdom

The 50 greatest Sir Alex Ferguson quotes
06 November 2018

Love him or hate him, Fergie left the game in a very different state than when he found it.

Here’s our pick of Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest-ever quotes.

1. “Football, bloody hell” (After United’s dramatic Champions League victory over Bayern Munich in 1999)

2. ‘At the end of this game, the European Cup will be only six feet away from you, and you’ll not even able to touch it if we lose. And for many of you, that will be the closest you will ever get. Don’t you dare come back in here without giving your all.’ (1999 European Cup final with Bayern Munich, half-time team-talk)

3. “The work of a team should always embrace a great player but the great player must always work.”

4. “You can’t applaud a referee.”

5. “I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.” (On Giggs)

6. “It’s getting tickly now - squeaky-bum time, I call it.”

7. “If he was an inch taller he’d be the best centre half in Britain. His father is 6ft 2in - I’d check the milkman.” (On Gary Neville)

Fergie suggests that Neville Neville may not be quite who Gary thought he was

8. “I’m no f****** talking to you. He’s a f****** great player. Yous are f******* idiots.” (On Veron)

9. “They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages! I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!” (On Wenger)

10. “He’s a novice - he should keep his opinions to Japanese football” (Guess? Yep, Wenger)

11. “That lad must have been born offside.” (On Filippo Inzaghi)

12. “My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f*****g perch. And you can print that.” (On the 2002/03 title and his old rivals)

13. “It was a freakish incident. If I tried it 100 or a million times it couldn’t happen again. If I could I would have carried on playing!” (On that boot kick into Beckham’s face)

14. “The credit to them, the better team won and there’s nothing we can do about that now.” (On defeat at the hands of Barca, Champions League final, 2009)

15. “At the last minute, from what I can gather, either Emmanuel Adebayor or his agent phoned us after they had agreed a deal with City and then did the same with Chelsea. He was desperate to get to either Chelsea or us.”

Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger: best of frenemies

16. “All they can talk about is Manchester United.” (On Manchester City)

17 “When an Italian says it’s pasta I check under the sauce to make sure. They are innovators of the smokescreen.” (On Italians)

18. “Jose understands winning and losing are twins in a way. When you win you don’t gloat and when you lose you don’t go bananas.” (On Mourinho)

19. “If Chelsea drop points, the cat’s out in the open. And you know what cats are like - sometimes they don’t come home.”

20. “I’ve never played for a draw in my life.”

21. “If I have my health I can carry on. There will be a point when I do quit but I have absolutely no idea when that is.”

22. “I’m going to tell you the story about the geese which fly 5,000 miles from Canada to France. They fly in V-formation but the second ones don’t fly. They’re the subs for the first ones. And then the second ones take over - so it’s teamwork.”

23. ‘Can you f***ing believe him!?’ (To assistant Steve McClaren on seeing Peter Schmeichel going up for the first stoppage time corner - 1999 European Cup final with Bayern Munich)

24. ‘You must be joking. Do I look as if I’m a masochist ready to cut myself? How does relegation sound instead?’ (When asked if Liverpool were genuine title contenders in 2007)

25. “Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in the field.” (Over Rooney and his 2010 u-turn from leaving the club)

Fergie in the early days of the blazer and badge

26. “As with every young player, he’s only 18.”

27. “I don’t like losing but I’ve mellowed. I maybe have a short fuse but it goes away quicker now.”

28. “I do believe in fate.”

29. “Only true champions come out and show their worth after defeat- and I expect us to do that”(After being beaten by Arsenal for a second time in the 2006 season)

30. “You’re a bottler, Incey. You cannae handle the stage, can you?” (Poor Paul)

31. “I’m privileged to have followed Sir Matt because all you have to do is to try and maintain the standards that he set so many years ago.” (On Sir Matt Busby)

32. “Whether dribbling or sprinting, Ryan can leave the best defenders with twisted blood” (On Ryan Giggs)

33. “Well, football is a hard game; there’s no denying it. It’s a game that can bring out the worst in you, at times.”

34. ‘It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt such an honour to be associated with such a player.’ (on Roy Keane’s inspired performance in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League against Juventus in 1999)

Roy Keane inspires Manchester United to victory over Juventus in 1999

35. ‘I think he was an angry man. He must have been disturbed for some reason. I think you have got to cut through the venom of it and hopefully he’ll reflect and understand what he said was absolutely ridiculous.’ (On Benitez)

36. “There has been a lot of expectation on Manchester City and with the spending they have done they have to win something. Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour and have to live with it. You can’t do anything about them…” (On Man City)

37. ‘Myths grow all the time. If I was to listen to the number of times I’ve thrown teacups then we’ve gone through some crockery in this place. It’s completely exaggerated, but I don’t like people arguing back with me.’ (On the ‘hairdryer’ treatment)

38. ‘To not apologise for the behaviour of the players to another manager is unthinkable. It’s a disgrace, but I don’t expect Wenger to ever apologise…he’s that type of person.’ (2005, Wenger)

39. ‘He could start a row in an empty house.’ (On Dennis Wise)

40. ‘He’ll be getting a hug and a kiss from me - maybe even two!’ (on his friend Sam Allardyce after Bolton stalled Chelsea’s title challenge in 2006-2007)

41. “He was certainly full of it, calling me “Boss” and “Big Man” when we had our post-match drink after the first leg. But it would help if his greetings were accompanied by a decent glass of wine. What he gave me was paint-stripper.” (Ferguson’s first impressions of Jose Mourinho)

42. “David Beckham is Britain’s finest striker of a football not because of God-given talent but because he practises with a relentless application that the vast majority of less gifted players wouldn’t contemplate.”

Fergie and Becks

43. “The pace of the game demanded a referee who was fit. It is an indictment of our game. You see referees abroad who are as fit as butcher’s dogs. We have some who are fit. He wasn’t fit. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player. He was needing a rest. It was ridiculous.’ (On referee Alan Wiley)

44. “They gave us four minutes [injury time], that’s an insult to the game. It denies you a proper chance to win a football match. There were six substitutions, the trainer came on, so that’s four minutes right away and the goalkeeper must have wasted about two or three minutes and they took their time at every goal kick. That’s obvious to everyone today and it’s a flaw in the game that the referee is responsible for time keeping. It’s ridiculous that it’s 2012 and the referee still has control of that.” (On the lack of Fergie time after United lost 3-2 at home to Tottenham)

45. “I used to have a saying that when a player is at his peak, he feels as though he can climb Everest in his slippers. That’s what he was like.” (On Paul Ince)

46. “He was towering over me and the other players were almost covering their eyes. I’m looking up and thinking ‘if he does hit me, I’m dead” (On a dressing room disagreement with Peter Schmeichel)

47. ‘Wayne is truly blessed. He doesn’t just have ability, he has a fire inside him.’ (After Rooney joined United in 2004)

48. “If ever there was one player, anywhere in the world, that was made for Manchester United, it was Cantona. He swaggered in, stuck his chest out, raised his head and surveyed everything as though he were asking: ‘I’m Cantona. How big are you? Are you big enough for me?”

49. “I bet him he wouldn’t get 15 league goals and I’m going to have to change my bet with him. If he gets to 15 I can change it and I am allowed to do that because I’m the manager. I’m going to make it 150 now!” (On Ronaldo)

50. “Pardew has come out and criticised me. He is the worst at haranguing referees. He shoves them and makes a joke of it. How he can criticise me is unbelievable. He forgets the help I gave him, by the way. The press have had a field day. The only person they have not spoken to is Barack Obama because he is busy. It is unfortunate but I am the manager of the most famous club in the world. Not Newcastle, a wee club in the North-East. I was demonstrative. I am always demonstrative. Everyone knows that. I am an emotional guy but I was not abusive.”

(Images: Getty)

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