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Alex Ferguson has always been on the cutting edge of sports science -- Paul McGinley

The Ryder Cup-winning captain spoke about the Scot’s influence on the team at Gleneagles.

THE BBC’S SPORTS manager of 2014, Paul McGinley, today reiterated the importance of Alex Ferguson in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory.

The former Manchester United manager retired over a year before the tournament teed off in his native Scotland. However, for McGinley that proved to be perfect timing, as it allowed his meticulous approach to the competition to include extensive input from the 13-time Premier League champion.

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One of the chief pillars of preparation that Ferguson underlined in McGinley’s mind was a willingness to embrace sports science and performance analysis. This, despite many of the Scot’s generation perhaps preferring to keep on-field matters close to their chest.

Speaking at Business of Sports Science event at the RDS today, McGinley said:

“I worked with Alex Ferguson over the last year, sitting on his shoulder and picking his brain on a number of things  One of the things that people forget about, or dismiss about him, was how much on the cutting edge of sports science he was.

For a guy who left school at 14 in Glasgow to go into professional sport and go right through without any education, this guy was very, very clever. He looked in to all the sports science that was available - he got Manchester United to invest heavily in sports science.

Ferguson was asked to speak with the European team before the September tournament at Gleneagles began. And though the exact contents of the speech were not divulged today, McGinley explained why Ferguson was such a good fit as a mentor for his squad.

“The way I saw my job was: we had won seven of the previous nine Ryder Cups. I’d been shotgun for most of that – three as a player, two as a vice captain – I had seen what had worked and what hadn’t worked. Though we never talked about it, it was clear from my experience there was a template there. It wasn’t just because we were better players, there was a reason we were successful .

“There were six or seven dynamics involved, I saw my job as taking each one of those dynamics, not changing them, but evolving them and making them better.

He added: “That’s why Alex Ferguson was a great help to us: he was used to expectation, used to winning and used to winning at home.”

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Sean Farrell

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