There are football managers and then there is Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scottish gaffer had a truly remarkable career in which he emerged as the best football manager to lead a team in the Premier League Era. Fergie is a legend in every sense of the word.
There are certain qualities in him that truly set him apart from his peers. The former Aberdeen manager led Manchester United to 26 years of unprecedented success in which he won numerous titles for his team.
There were highs as well as lows for him, but Fergie managed to battle everything and led his team to glory much to the envy of all others.
It did not come easily, to be honest. In his 26 years in charge of the club, Sir Alex had to deal with different characters in the dressing room-- some really bold ones, some timid too. Managing a top team for this long is no mean feat, as you need to keep in mind the interests of the players too. From Eric Cantona to Cristiano Ronaldo, Fergie had seen it all in his managerial career.
He went through some difficult phases and made some extremely bold decisions; decisions that other managers would have thought twice before taking.
However, Fergie was different. He simply had the cojones to reject the demands of even the greatest of the players.
The team always came first for him and anyone becoming toxic for the dressing room environment was unacceptable to him. In his tenure at Manchester United, which incidentally lasted for a little more than a quarter of the century, he had his set of disagreements with players too.
Sir Alex always claimed that the player should never become bigger than the manager should. He said that football clubs would be demolished the day players started managing them and hence always maintained his authority over the squad as well as over the club.
So, who were the players with whom he had a rift? What was the inside story of the situation at that point in time? Let us see.
#5 Jaap Stam
There are various versions of this story and we can look at each one of them. However, if there is one thing that everyone can agree on, Jaap Stam was one of the greatest players to leave Old Trafford.
He was a class apart from the other defenders and it was quite evident in his performances. The Dutch had a strong built and stood at around 193 centimetres. He was extremely strong and owned his box with command.
His bullish nature did not allow anyone to get past him and his pace made up for whenever the strikers actually got behind him. He had incredible speed, which helped him run around in his own half, making crucial tackles and leading the backline well.
Such was his stature that the Premier League managers once said that they would buy him over the likes of Thierry Henry and other forwards. Stam had a memorable three-year stay at Old Trafford where he won the Premier League title each term.
He also won the treble in his first season with the club. Therefore, all hell broke loose when the news broke out that the Dutch would leave Manchester United for a fee of 16 million pounds. Apparently, Stam had written a memoir in which he stated that Sir Alex had been tapping the defender ever since his time with PSV Eindhoven.
The gaffer was not pleased with the incident and had a good long discussion with Stam. It has been wildly believed that this led to the ouster of Stam from the team but over the years different aspects of the story have come out.
Earlier this year, Stam said that the club wanted to balance the accounts and hence some players needed to be sold off. Sir Alex has stated that he was getting 16 million pounds for a 29-year-old defender and he thought it was best to sell him off.
However, it cannot be denied that Fergie was fuming after reading the excerpts from the book and this particular incident could have played a part in the eventual decision taken by the club.