Peter Schmeichel names the only Liverpool player who Alex Ferguson was “terrified of”

Peter Schmeichel reveals Alex Ferguson’s major Liverpool fear.

Peter Schmeichel has revealed that Steve McManaman was the only Liverpool player who struck fear into former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

The Danish goalkeeper played under Ferguson for eight years and during this period, Man United enjoyed some memorable encounters against their arch-rivals, including the 1996 FA Cup Final at Wembley.

Peter Schmeichel: “Alex Ferguson was terrified of McManaman.”

Ferguson’s side emerged as victors on that occasion, thanks to a late Eric Cantona winner, but before the game, Liverpool’s tricky winger was at the forefront of Scot’s mind, as Schmeichel reveals in his autobiography One.

“He was going to play Phil Neville as a man-marker for Steve McManaman,” Schmeichel writes.

“In some ways, this was no surprise because Ferguson was terrified of McManaman. McManaman was the only opposing player he ever paid attention to in the Premier League.

“Steve McManaman was a fantastic footballer.”

“I mean, he would mention Alan Shearer and other major opposing players in team talks but never with any fear. However, McManaman always had him in a sweat.

“And, to be fair, Steve was a fantastic footballer. Fergie’s thinking was always that if you took McManaman out of the game, you took Liverpool out.

While Ferguson seemed intent on attaching the younger Neville brother to McManaman, it took a meeting with some of United’s senior players – Schmeichel, Cantona, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and Roy Keane – to put him off the idea.

“The trouble was that, in our experience, when we tried changing our tactics in domestic matches, it just didn’t work,” Schmeichel continues.

“So, after Fergie revealed his ‘Operation Stop McManaman, scheme there was a silence, and then I said: ‘Gaffer, this is a bad idea.’ But Fergie stuck to his guns.

“‘No this is what we’re doing,’ he affirmed. Then Eric spoke. And Eric never spoke. He said: ‘Gaffer… bad idea.’

“Fergie said: ‘Aye… okay, we’re not doing it. Lads, off you go.'”

While the 19-year-old Neville did play 90 minutes as United completed the Double, he did so at left-back, in direct opposition to Jason McAteer.

McManaman was granted more of a free role by Liverpool boss Roy Evans and we’ll never know what could have happened if Schmeichel, Cantona et al hadn’t changed their manager’s mind.

“Nobody disliked Liverpool more than Alex Ferguson.”

Elsewhere in Schmeichel’s book, he reveals the extent of Ferguson’s disdain for Liverpool as a whole.

“It would be “Blah blah blah,” then ‘Go and get your bath, see you Monday,’ and that was the end of that,” he writes of Ferguson’s usual approach to post-match team talks.

“The one time it was different was when the following game was Liverpool. Then, he would go, ‘Blah blah blah, it’s f*****g Liverpool next. Get your bath and see you Monday. Be f*****g ready.’

“I don’t think there is anyone who disliked Liverpool more than the manager. In those weeks it was very clear who we were playing next and Fergie was right on his toes.”

While Liverpool beat United on a number of occasions during that era, it was Fergie who had the last laugh, racking up multiple Premier League titles as their rivals embarked on a barren run that wouldn’t end until 2020, when Jurgen Klopp’s side ended a 30-year wait for the title.

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