Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has hit out at Sir Alex Ferguson. His comments came after former Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand revealed how the now-retired manager used to motivate his players ahead of encounters against the Gunners.
Ferdinand stated that his former manager would ridicule the opposition in his team talks ahead of the fixtures against Arsenal. He said (via The Mirror):
“Something Alex Ferguson used to say about Arsenal during his team talks was, ‘Get in their faces. They don’t like it, they can’t deal with it. They’re babies.’ He told us: ‘Get right up against them and you’ll win this game. Rio, you’ll overrun them, you’ll overpower them’.”
Keown was furious with Ferguson's methods as he believes managers should focus on their own team instead of disparaging the opposition. In response to the retired Manchester United defender's comments, Keown said:
“That’s poor, it’s poor. Not a great topic was it. I thought the great Alex Ferguson would’ve found a bit more to have gone at with the players to motivate them."
Referring to former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who coached him during his time with the Gunners, Keown added:
“Were they playing to stop us? Or were they playing to be a success for themselves? In our dressing room, for Wenger it was about us, not about the opposition.
"I’ve been in dressing rooms towards the end of my career where I went to work for a manager who would just ridicule the opposition manager."
Keown registered 427 appearances for the north London outfit as a centre-back, scoring seven goals and providing six assists.
Ferdinand featured in 455 appearances across all competitions for Manchester United and was an integral aspect of Ferguson's domestic and European triumphs with the Red Devils.
Martin Keown on how managers must motivate players after discovering Sir Alex Ferguson's tactics for Manchester United vs Arsenal fixtures
The former Gunners defender further criticized Ferguson's technique to motivate Manchester United players. He said:
“I wasn’t learning anything from that. I was very motivated myself, but thinking back to Graham Taylor as a club manager [he] was very good, George Graham of course very good, an extreme I suppose [compared] to Arsene Wenger.”
Keown then went on to share details about his ideal manager's leadership qualities and motivational methods. He added:
“But I preferred a quiet approach, coming in at half time you play the game back in your mind’s eye, you work it through yourself and then you’re wanting to hear from the manager.
"But when you come in and they’re continually talking, you can’t think straight. So I just needed a quiet moment, but then tell me what I need to know, and let’s go and do it and improve and win the game.”