“When he doesn’t talk for three minutes, it means that someone is in trouble.”
Patrice Evra has recalled his most confusing experience of Alex Ferguson’s infamous hairdryer treatment.
Evra joined Manchester United at the beginning of 2006 and quickly established himself as a fan favourite at Old Trafford after United had struggled to find a reliable left-back for a number of years.
Evra was not the only player to feel the wrath of Ferguson in the dressing room but he is part of an exclusive club that was targeted in the hope of spreading a message to the larger United squad.
“We played against Tottenham and we were winning 2-0 at half-time,” Evra said on Eddie Hearn’s No Passion, No Point podcast.
“I came back into the dressing room and everyone was telling me, ‘Wow, Pat, you’re on fire!’ I was giving high-fives to everyone and was taking my drink. Ferguson was sat like this [silent].
“When he doesn’t talk for three minutes, it means that someone is in trouble but I would never have expected myself.
“He looked at me and said, ‘Patrice, you OK?’ I said, ‘Yes, boss. I’m OK!’
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“He said, ‘Are you tired?’ I thought it was a prank or something so I looked around and said, ‘Am I tired? No.’
“He said, ‘Do you think you are playing a good game?’ I said, ‘Boss! I’m on fire.’ Everybody started laughing but he gave me the famous hairdryer. He said, ‘What the hell are you doing? This is the worst game you have played since I signed you for Manchester United. Why did you pass the ball back to Van der Sar?’
“I told him that I didn’t have any other option and he said, ‘If you do that again, I will take you out of the team. You’re going to come and watch the game next to me!'”
Evra was tempted to bite back at Ferguson for his comments about his performance but he has always been of the opinion that managers should never have their authority questioned in front of the squad.
Patrice Evra on Alex Ferguson hairdryer
The France legend revealed that Ferguson specifically singled him out during a particularly impressive performance to let the other United players know that anything less than the highest standard would be acceptable for the second half.
Evra continued: “We ended up beating Tottenham 4-0 and after the game, I had my shower and everyone was saying, ‘Patrice, well done. That was a good game.’
“I said, ‘Leave me alone, guys.’ But the next day, because I don’t like injustice, I went to Ferguson’s office and knocked on the door. He opened it with a ‘Hey son, how are you?’ and he was smiling.
“I asked him what happened yesterday and he said, ‘No, Patrice! You’ve been the best player on the pitch. What a game, seriously! You’re such a great player.’
“I looked at him like [confused]. He said, ‘At half-time we were playing so well but Cristiano Ronaldo would start doing some skills and we were starting to disrespect Tottenham instead of killing them. When the fans pay to come to the stadium, they want you to score one goal but if you can score the second, you score the second or third or fourth. This is the United mentality. But well done, son.’
“What was that? It was just because he knew I could take the fire and he sent a message to my other teammates because they were like, ‘Wow, if he’s killing Patrice then we’d better perform.’
“That’s the kind of relationship I had with Ferguson but I’ll be honest with you, at the end I was like, ‘Boss next time please tell me, make me aware, give me a sign or something.’ He told me to get out of his office.”