“Don’t f***ing attempt to let him f***ing bully you.”
Roy Keane said that Alex Ferguson was the master of giving team talks. And this footage from a team talk ahead of a Manchester United game against Liverpool in 1998 shows the Irishman had a point.
Alex Ferguson and Man United in 1998.
The footage comes from 1998 and a documentary called, ‘The Alex Ferguson story’.
At the time, Manchester United were attempting to retain the Premier League title for a third successive season.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, however, were hot on Man United’s heels.
The Gunners recorded a 1-0 victory over the Red Devils at Old Trafford in April 1998, when Marc Overmars scored past Peter Schmeichel.
Ferguson’s side needed to beat Liverpool three games later to stay in contention for the title.
They ended up drawing the match 1-1 at Old Trafford and Arsenal, who had four games in hand at the time, went on to win the double.
But the manager’s team talk offers a brilliant insight into what made him tick and so good at his job.
Man United won the treble the following season.
Alex Ferguson team talk ahead of Liverpool game.
In the team talk, Ferguson is focused primarily on two opposition players – Paul Ince and Steve McManaman.
The Scot had fallen out with former Man United midfielder Ince and allowed him to join Inter Milan in 1995.
After two years in Serie A, Ince was back in English football and captaining Liverpool against United at Old Trafford. Ferguson urges his team to stand up to him.
“Don’t f***ing attempt to let him f***ing bully you,” he tells the United players in a meeting the day before the match.
“I don’t care if you do it verbally or physically, you just f***ing make sure you’re ready for him.”
"I never wanted to leave Man Utd."
"They accepted a bid behind my back, I wasn't too pleased."@PaulInce reflects on the circumstances surrounding his departure from Old Trafford 🏴➡️🇮🇹
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 20, 2018
Ferguson on McManaman.
Ferguson then implores his team to pay close attention to McManaman, Liverpool’s most creative player.
“It’s straight forward, as far as I’m concerned, you look after McManaman and you close him down quickly,” he says.
“You don’t need to detail a player. Whoever is nearest to him, you close him down and don’t allow him to dictate.”
Ferguson then says that Man United missed out on the Premier League title in 1995 due to a match at Anfield where they ‘did not listen to instructions about McManaman’.
“I don’t think they have a chance.”
The Man United manager, however, then gives tactical instructions and tells the players where to play the ball when they come into possession.
Ferguson then tells his players that they are a better team than Liverpool.
“I don’t think they’ve a chance against us. I don’t think they have a chance.”
You can watch the clip of Ferguson’s team talk below.
And here’s his team talk at half-time of the match.
(Originally published on September 25, 2020).