Wayne Rooney reveals Alex Ferguson's best attribute as a manager
"He knew how to speak to players, how to get a reaction."
Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney didn't always get along, but Rooney played the best football of his career under the former Manchester United manager.
During Rooney's nine years under Ferguson, the pair had two high-profile disputes. The first in 2010 was over a contract extension, and it almost saw the player leave Old Trafford, with rivals Manchester City heavily linked with a move for him at the time. Ferguson and Rooney then had another falling-out towards the end of the 2012/13 season.
The former England captain was omitted from the starting line-up for United's Champions League second-leg tie with Real Madrid, and for Ferguson's final game as United manager at Old Trafford, a 2-1 win over Swansea City.
If he had not retired that summer, it's very likely Ferguson would have sold Rooney. Yet, David Moyes became manager, Rooney remained, became captain and the club's all-time top scorer, before leaving for Everton last summer. Despite their often rocky relationship, it's clear the player still has a lot of respect for Ferguson. And, judging by Rooney's comments on Monday Night Football, the Scot knew exactly how to motivate him.
"His man-management without a doubt," Rooney said on Sky Sports, when asked what was Ferguson's best quality as a manager.
"As a manager he was the best, but his man-management was something which a lot of other managers would struggle to match. He knew how to speak to players, how to get a reaction. He's the only manager that could leave someone out and make them feel good about it. He was incredible. He knew how to get a reaction out of me. So many times at half-time I had played well and others in the dressing room hadn't, but he'd come for me. He knew there'd be a shouting match, but it'd get a reaction from me. If he did it to another player, like Nani, he knew he'd lose the player, but he just knew the right thing to do with different players."
"I think I told him to go and fuck himself" https://t.co/sdfar4T9H9
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) February 6, 2018
Rooney also spoke about some of Ferguson's team-talks, a facet of his management Roy Keane complimented. According to Rooney, Ferguson always knew exactly what to say before a match, and he often left it to the players to decide tactics during games and take responsibility.
"Some of his team talks were, 'Go and win the game,'" he said.
"'You 11 players are better than their 11 players, go and win the game and work it out for yourselves on the pitch'... If we got a player sent-off, the players would work out how we change the formation themselves on the pitch, and if there was a problem the manager would change it. In the big games, that's where he'd get his tactics right."
Rooney spoke about a range of topics on Monday Night Football, including an argument with Keane and the form of Harry Kane. His appearance on the show was very well received.