“Well the first thing you should probably think about doing is not hanging around with him (Yorke) because he ain’t going to be here.”
Rio Ferdinand has opened up on an interesting conversation that took place between him and Alex Ferguson which highlights why the Scot is one of the greatest managers the sport has ever seen.
In the summer of 2002, Ferdinand joined Manchester United from Leeds in what was then a world-record fee for a defender and for a British player.
The centre-back was only 23 at the time and he came with a massive reputation.
Ferdinand describes that on his first day at the training ground, he hung around with Dwight Yorke before receiving a warning from Ferguson.
Yorke formed a potent partnership with Andy Cole when he joined Manchester United in 1998. The Trinidad and Tobago international would score 48 goals in 96 appearances for the famous club.
However, it seems that the striker’s motivation waned somewhat after the club won the treble in his first season. He still had an excellent goalscoring record thereafter, but Ferguson knew something was up.
Rio Ferdinand: “It’s Alex Ferguson, so the respect levels are crazy high anyway.”
“I went into the training ground,” Ferdinand said on his podcast.
“And Dwight Yorke, who had won the treble a couple of years before was on fire, him and Andy Cole upfront. I was walked around the training ground on my first day with him and I remember walking upstairs and Sir Alex Ferguson walking out of his office. He saw us and went, ‘Alright boys. Good morning!’
“We both said ‘morning’, me and Dwight Yorke. I had breakfast with him (Yorke). (We) went out onto the training pitch and as me and Yorkie walked out, he (Ferguson) called me – ‘Rio. Rio! Come here’.
“It’s Alex Ferguson, so the respect levels are crazy high anyway. It’s like the headteacher calling you at school on your first day.
“I walked over and he went, ‘Do you want to be here for a long time?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I want to win everything and I want to do it as well as I can, boss.’
“He said, ‘Well the first thing you should probably think about doing is not hanging around with him (Yorke) because he ain’t going to be here’. Wow. I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘He was unbelievable. He won everything but (he’s) complacent now’.
“When he said that to me, it just hit home that no one is safe at this club. No matter what you have done. Dwight Yorke was walking around as the king of Manchester as he’d won the treble and he was an integral part of that.
“But if you start letting standards slip maybe or if the intensity is not there at the training ground, you’ve got to go.
“That conversation stayed with me for the rest of my career at Man United. That fear of being pushed out the door because I wasn’t as intense as I was at the beginning.”
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) September 17, 2020
(Originally published on September 22, 2020).