“It was a great bit of management.”
Rio Ferdinand has provided an insight into how Alex Ferguson sometimes treated Manchester United’s defensive players differently to the more creative players in the squad.
Ferguson will go down as one of the greatest man-managers in football history and Ferdinand explained how the legendary Scot seldom praised him despite some remarkable performances at the back for United.
Ferdinand struck up an incredible partnership with Nemanja Vidic at the heart of the Red Devils’ defence and some have argued that that centre-half pairing was the best in Premier League history.
But according to Ferdinand, Ferguson would reserve his praise for the more creative players who needed to be brimming with confidence while he would keep his defenders hungry for approval with minimal plaudits.
Ferdinand, who moved to Old Trafford from Leeds in 2002, also admitted that Ferguson was very careful with his treatment of players from London as he was worried that they could become full of themselves.
“He was different to Harry Redknapp in that he didn’t really praise me – he was fearful that maybe I’d get big-headed and think I was the man,” Ferdinand told Four Four Two.
Rio Ferdinand on Alex Ferguson
“He thought that a lot about people from London – I think he had a certain idea about how Londoners are. But it was probably good for me that he didn’t, as I always felt that I had something to prove to him.
“Me and Vida were the same like that – we used to talk about it a lot.
“Sir Alex would say, ‘Cristiano, Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov, Giggs and Scholes – brilliant’, but he’d never really name-check us.
“We used to think, ‘We’re keeping clean sheets every other week here – what’s going on?!’ But it kept us hungry.
“We wanted to prove ourselves to him and get the recognition that we both felt we deserved. It was a great bit of management.”