Alex Ferguson provided an insight into how his staff analysed players in a document published in his 2015 book Leading.
An excellent judge of character with an eye for talent, Alex Ferguson made few mistakes when it came to buying and selling players during his 27-year reign as Manchester United manager.
But Ferguson had to rely on many scouting reports and coaches’ assessments when deciding how to assemble squads in pre-season.
A fascinating document from Ferguson’s 2015 book Leading shows how the Red Devils categorised players.
Interesting "discussion document" from 2004 MUFC board meeting in Fergie's book. Lists Kompany as a potential target pic.twitter.com/JQ5ismRpyw
— Paul Hirst (@hirstclass) September 22, 2015
Going into the 2004/05 season, Ferguson had his players broken into three different categories – squad, excess and youth potential – while he also had a separate column for potential transfer targets.
The likes of Nicky Butt, Luke Chadwick, Michael Stewart and Diego Forlan were deemed surplus to requirements while, interestingly, Vincent Kompany was identified as a possible target four years before the Belgian defender signed for Man City.
In his programme notes for Liam Miller’s memorial game, Ferguson explained how he personally went to watch Celtic play Anderlecht with a view to assess Kompany but ended up being more drawn to Miller.
“When I went to the Celtic v Anderlecht Champions League tie in Glasgow in November 2003, it was to watch the Belgian defender Vincent Kompany,” Ferguson explained. “However, my attention soon gravitated to Celtic’s energetic young midfielder, slight of stature but with an assured, calm way about him.
“What I witnessed was a player with a tremendous set of midfield fundamentals — his movement off the ball, his penetration of the Anderlecht midfield. I came away smitten by his performance, not least the timing of his runs. Leaving Parkhead I was totally determined to get Liam Miller to Manchester United.”
Instead of signing Kompany as a defensive prospect in that transfer window, United opted to bring in Gerard Pique from Barcelona and Gabriel Heinze from Paris Saint-Germain.
Kompany admitted that United enquired about him but the Belgian centre-half wasn’t willing to abandon his schooling at the age of 17.
“United asked about me, but I had other priorities at the time,” Kompany explained in 2015. “I was studying for my A-levels and my mother made me finish my education before I could concentrate on football.”