Ferguson back on the attack
Alex Ferguson has revealed it is the techniques of his managerial idol Jock Stein that make him the master of mind games – as he gets stuck into another with Manchester City.
The Manchester United boss was at it again yesterday, when he delivered a withering response to Patrick Vieira’s claim the Red Devils had shown signs of desperation when they brought Paul Scholes out of retirement in January.
It was the type of jibe that demanded a response, and Ferguson turned the tables on City, suggesting their decision to bring back striker Carlos Tevez after all his troubles told its own tale.
“If you talk about desperation, they played a player the other night who refused to go on the pitch, the manager said he’d never play again and he takes a five-month holiday in Argentina. What is that? Could that come under the description of desperation?” Ferguson said.
As for Scholes, Ferguson said: “If it’s desperation bringing back the best midfielder in Britain for the last 20 years then I think we can accept that.”
Stein, in his time as Celtic’s manager, showed Ferguson, who was a player on the other side of the Old Firm, how to make his words count.
“He did (teach me),” said Ferguson. “I was at Rangers, there were four games to go, and he says ’Rangers can only throw it away’ – and we did.”
To see Ferguson in this mood is glorious theatre, totally in control of the situation, delivering a message he knows will capture worldwide attention.
Little wonder that despite passing his 70th birthday, he does not want to give up.
And, nine games wins away from a 13th league title, there is no reason he should.
Looking at the comments from Vieira, who has an executive role at City, Ferguson said: “I think he was programmed for that.
“Roberto (Mancini) had a wee dig a couple of weeks back. We’re all going to play our hand that way. There will be plenty of ammunition for that.”
There was more to come. Would he bring Tevez back if he had been in Mancini’s shoes? The look on Ferguson’s face was a picture.
“Do I need to answer that? No. I don’t need to answer that,” said the United boss.
“I don’t know what it meant? I don’t know where it’s coming from. You never know whose decision it was. I’m not exactly in full knowledge about what happens at City.”
Ferguson relishes the challenge.
“We can all play our hand at these kind of things,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me. You’ll always get that kind of thing to try and unnerve the team if not the manager – that’s more to the point. It’s normal.”