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Ferguson says hardline stance may have cost United titles

“People will give a manager plenty of opportunities to crack the whip so it’s best to pick and choose your moments.”

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with the Barclays Premier League trophy in 2013.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with the Barclays Premier League trophy in 2013.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

ALEX FERGUSON BELIEVES his no-nonsense approach to enforcing team discipline may have prevented even more Premier League silverware finding its way to Old Trafford during his extraordinary 27 years in charge of Manchester United.

Retired United manager Ferguson won 13 English title in his time at the helm of the Red Devils but his tenure was also marked by some high-profile bust-ups with senior players such as Paul Ince, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Jaap Stam and Ruud van Nistelrooy — who all left the club before the Scot did.

“People will give a manager plenty of opportunities to crack the whip so it’s best to pick and choose your moments,” Ferguson wrote in his new book, Leading, which is out on September 22.

“You don’t have to dish out a punishment very often before everyone gets the message.

“I place discipline above all else and it might have cost us several titles.

“But if I had to repeat things I’d do it precisely the same because discipline has to come before anything else,” added Ferguson, who prior to his time with United enjoyed domestic and European success with Scottish club Aberdeen.

Ferguson had a major falling out with Ince during the 1994/95 season, when United failed to win the title, labelling him as a “bottler” and a “big-time Charlie”.

Stam exited during another trophyless season, in 2001/02, after angering Ferguson with comments published in the Dutch defender’s autobiography.

Stam alleged that Ferguson made an illegal approach to sign him when he was at PSV Eindoven.

So angry was the manager, he sold Stam — the linchpin of his defence for the previous three years — and brought in 35-year-old Frenchman Laurent Blanc.

United were runners-up to Chelsea in 2005-06, when Keane and van Nistelrooy got on the wrong side of the manager.

Keane was shown the door when he infuriated Ferguson by giving an interview where he was severely critical of his team-mates to United’s own television channel.

Meanwhile van Nistelrooy started just five more United games after the League Cup final, when he swore at Ferguson after he told him he would not be bringing him off the bench for the final in Cardiff.

The prolific striker was subsequently sold to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

© AFP 2015

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