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5 mistakes Sir Alex Ferguson committed as Manchester United manager

Sir Alex Ferguson made quite a few mistakes as Manchester United manager
Sir Alex Ferguson made quite a few mistakes as Manchester United manager
Naveen Ravi Joseph
Sir Alex Ferguson made quite a few mistakes as Manchester United manager
Sir Alex Ferguson made quite a few mistakes as Manchester United manager

Sir Alex Ferguson is considered to be one of the greatest managers to have graced the game. The Scot, who spent the majority of his managerial career with Manchester United, transformed them into a European superpower.

Not only did he win them numerous trophies, but he also made them into a brand that is renowned worldwide, and today they are the biggest club in terms of fan following. Even though Ferguson led United through 27 years of glory and fame, he too made some big mistakes during his stint as United manager, some of which both he and the club regretted later on.

We take a look at the five biggest mistakes Ferguson committed during his reign.


5. The David Beckham incident

Beckham with the cut that he suffered following the boot incident
Beckham with the cut that he suffered following the boot incident

David Beckham was a fan favourite at Old Trafford, but he had a very strained relationship with his former manager. In the early 2000s, his relationship with Ferguson began to deteriorate, possibly as a result of the England skipper's fame and commitments away from football.

Ferguson criticised Beckham in his autobiography, claiming that he was not "fair to his teammates". The relationship reached its breaking point in 2003 following an FA Cup defeat against Arsenal, when Ferguson furiously flung (or kicked) a boot at Beckham which hit him above the eye, causing a cut that required stitches.

There was plenty of speculation regarding the future of Beckham following the infamous boot incident, and the Englishman finally left the club and joined Real Madrid in the very next transfer window.

Later in 2007, Ferguson said:

"He was never a problem until he got married. He used to go into work with the academy coaches at night time, he was a fantastic young lad."
“Getting married into that entertainment scene was a difficult thing – from that moment, his life was never going to be the same. He is such a big celebrity, football is only a small part."

4. The curious case of goalkeepers

Massimo Taibi has to be the worst goalkeeper Ferguson signed
Massimo Taibi has to be the worst goalkeeper Ferguson signed

Following the departure of Peter Schmeichel to Sporting in 1999, it was rumoured that Ferguson turned down a chance to sign Edwin van der Sar. United later signed the coveted Dutchman in 2005. Still, during the six-year gap between Schmeichel's exit and Van der Sar's arrival, United went through goal-keeping headaches one after the other.

10 different keepers went in goal for United during those six years, ranging from Fabian Barthez to the downright awful Massimo Taibi.

Barthez was a Champions League, FIFA World Cup and Euro winner before joining Manchester United. Still, the Frenchman was inconsistent in goal and, even though he lasted four seasons with United, he wasn't the regular first choice during his spell there.

During this period, Ferguson also tried his luck with Roy Carroll, but Carroll will forever be remembered for the save that wasn't against Spurs.

The worst of the lot though was Massimo Taibi, who gave the gag reels a great clip in a match against Southampton and stood in goal for United on just four occasions.


3. The unexpected sale of Jaap Stam

Stam with Ferguson
Stam with Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson openly admitted that selling Stam, who was a crucial figure in the heart of the Manchester United defence during his three-year stay at the club, was a mistake. Ferguson said, "When I think of disappointments, obviously Jaap Stam was always a disappointment to me, I made a bad decision there."

Stam revealed in his autobiography that Ferguson had forced him to join Serie A side Lazio after a conversation in his car at a petrol station.

“At the petrol station he parked his car and got in with me. He told me that I had to be transferred. Then he said, ‘Will you please move to Lazio quickly?’
“I agreed to do it. Right there and then. One quick conversation in my car at a petrol station in Manchester was enough for me to leave that big club.
“When I think about it now, and I have never talked about it before, I find it unbelievable I let that, as a player, happen to me.”

This incident was in 2001, when Stam had returned from an Achilles' injury and had lost a bit of weight. United then received a £16.5 million bid from Lazio for the 29-year-old centre back, and Ferguson revealed that it was an offer he couldn't refuse. In playing terms though, it was a mistake.


2. Overlooking Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba is a gem that Manchester United gave away to Juventus
Paul Pogba is a gem that Manchester United gave away to Juventus

Paul Pogba has to be one of the best young midfielders in football today. The Frenchman was selected as the best young player at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and also won the Golden Boy award. Pogba came through Manchester United's academy before leaving for Juventus – on a free transfer.

He had joined the United academy from Le Havre. He could have been United's answer to their midfield woes as he could have easily made his way into the United first team and taken over from the ageing Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick (or maybe even the injured Darren Fletcher).

But Ferguson let slip a gem from his hands by not giving Pogba enough chances with the first team. The 21-year-old revealed that he had urged Ferguson to start him against Blackburn in December 2011 as United had a midfield crisis.

"I said to Ferguson: 'Play me, and I will show you if I'm ready or not'," he said. Instead, Ferguson put Rafael in midfield along with Ji Sung Park and Pogba on the bench. The French midfielder said that he gave up then and was really bummed as United lost the game 3-2.

Four years after his move to Juventus, United readily agreed to pay for their mistake. A mistake that cost them £89m – a world-record deal at the time.


1. Appointing David Moyes

Manchester United had their worst Premier League season under David Moyes
Manchester United had their worst Premier League season under David Moyes

When he retired in 2013, it was Ferguson himself who personally recommended David Moyes as the man to replace him at Old Trafford. Ferguson went for a fellow countryman with a similar skill set instead of going for a far more experienced manager with better credentials.

And the decision proved to be a mistake very soon as Moyes was sacked just 10 months into the job, leaving Manchester United in all sorts of trouble.

To be fair to Moyes, it wasn't entirely his fault. He was left with a squad that needed plenty of repair even though they had won the title the season before. Still, Moyes did play a hand in his own fall.

The former Everton manager didn't do enough to strengthen his squad when he had the time. His only primary summer transfer was that of Marouane Fellaini from his former club, and the Belgian struggled at Old Trafford with injuries and some poor displays.

He also tried to establish his authority by removing Ferguson's backroom staff and bringing in his own in one quick swoop, which would also prove to a decisive factor in United's worst Premier League season.

Moyes lost the trust and support of his players over time and missing out on Champions League football proved to be the final nail in his coffin.


Edited by Staff Editor

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