Gary Neville gives a candid account of the Manchester United dressing room after Ferguson announced the news.
While Alex Ferguson is currently enjoying his retirement from football, the legendary manager could have had a few extra years to put his feet up because when the Manchester United manager signed a contract in 1999, he announced that he would leave in 2002 at the age of 60.
As we all know, that didn’t happen as Ferguson went on to win six more Premier League titles, the Champions League, 3 League Cups, the FA Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Aside from this, he reached two other Champions League finals and build the third great team in his glittering dynasty.
How different things could have been for Manchester United if Ferguson left and the likes of Dave O’Leary, Alan Curbishley, Martin O’Neill, and the main favourite, Sven-Göran Eriksson replaced him?
In his autobiography Red, Gary Neville recounts the day that Ferguson told the Manchester United squad that he was reversing his decision and according to Neville, Roy Keane felt that Fergie’s U-turn meant trouble for one player, Dwight Yorke.
“He gathered all the players in the dressing room to tell us. there was no great emotion expressed on either side – that’s not how it works in a dressing room – but we were all happy deep down. I say ‘all,’ but Yorkie’s face dropped because he was being left out by the boss and he could maybe start afresh under a new manager. The boss had barely left the room when Keano piped up, ‘Well, that’s you fucked, Yorkie.’
During his first year at Old Trafford – the famous treble year – Yorke scored more goals than any of his team-mates, before achieving the same feat again the following year.
Dwight Yorke at Manchester United
In his first season at Manchester United, Yorke finished the league season as the top goalscorer with 18 goals. He also scored some massive goals against Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Juventus in the Champions League.
To crown things off, he won the Premier League Player of the Season.
However, after two great seasons and two underwhelming seasons, Ferguson was insistent on selling Yorke.
As if to drive home to Yorke that he would not be part of his 2002/03 plans, Ferguson did not give the striker a squad number for the new season.
Prior to Fergie’s decision to do a u-turn on retiring, in January 2002, a move to Middlesbrough fell through for Yorke and he played his last game for United later that month.
Five months later, Yorke joined Blackburn Rovers where he was reunited with his former United strike partner Andy Cole.
Later in his career, Yorke would also work with Roy Keane again, this time at Sunderland and in his book, the Corkonian describes Yorke as his best signing and a top guy.
However, when Keane was sacked from Sunderland, a few days later, he got a text from Yorke which read: “All the best.”
Yorke said that Keane replied by saying: “Go fuck yourself.”
The two men have since met up, chatted to each other, and moved on.
As for Yorke and Ferguson, the two men were reunited last year for the reunion match between Manchester United’s ’99 Legends team and the Bayern Munich Legends at Old Trafford.
The former Aston Villa and Sunderland striker continues to do media work for Manchester United too.