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23rd Feb 2023

Alex Ferguson’s furious reaction to John Motson’s question about Roy Keane

"You f***ing know the rules here"

Robert Redmond

“You f***ing know the rules here.”

Alex Ferguson kept journalists on their toes throughout his 26-years as Manchester United manager and regularly clashed with the BBC. He boycotted the British broadcasters between 2004 and 2011 after they aired a documentary about his son Jason, who was a football agent. Even before that, Ferguson wasn’t a fan of the BBC, as this exchange with John Motson shows.

Back in 1995, the veteran commentator asked the United manager about Roy Keane’s disciplinary record in a post-match interview. The former United captain received 13 red cards in his career, and the red mist often descended, particularly in the early stages of his time at Old Trafford.

Like the rest of Ferguson’s double-winning team in 1994, Keane didn’t shirk from the physical side of the game and often overstepped the mark.

However, the former United manager would always defend his players in public, no matter how they had behaved. It earned him their loyalty and often created a siege mentality which helped push the team to reach new heights.

So, Motson was walking into trouble when he asked about Keane’s disciplinary record. It was a valid question, but one which sparked a furious reaction from Ferguson.

“Is the Roy Keane situation one that you will have to address?” the BBC commentator asked.

“Do you know what, John? You’ve no right to ask that question, you’re out of order,” Ferguson snapped.

“You know fine well my ruling on that, right? That’s the interview finished. I’m going to cancel the interview, the whole f***ing lot of it. Cancel it,” he barked before storming off.

Motson said that he had been instructed to ask the question, but Ferguson wasn’t interested. He cursed him as he walks away and didn’t speak to the BBC commentator again for some time. Recalling the incident, years later, for the BBC, Motson wrote:

‘Being so assertive and passionate can sometimes spill over and I’ve experienced Ferguson’s so-called “hairdryer treatment” at first hand. It happened after a game between Manchester United and Middlesbrough in 1995, when Roy Keane had been sent off for the third time in 14 games. I asked about the United captain’s disciplinary record and Ferguson erupted.

‘But I have to say that when I next saw him, everything seemed to have been forgotten and he treated me in the same way he had prior to the incident.’

You can watch the interview below. The clip is from ‘The Feud’ documentary, which covers the rivalry between Arsenal and United in-depth.

Here – from that same Ferguson/Motson exchange – were his thoughts on Arsene Wenger: