A former Fleet Street journalist who now lives near Louth has fondly recalled the first time he met the great Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, promptly being met with the infamous ‘hair-dryer treatment’.
Bernard Bale, who penned the 2006 book ‘The Fergie Legacy: One Man’s Extraordinary Impact on British Football’, said Sir Alex had misheard him when he asked for an interview after a win at Notts County and bluntly let his feelings be known.
“I saw him after the game and said hello, then I said to him ‘can we sort an interview?’ Bernard explained.
“He thought I’d said ‘what about this interview’, and I shan’t repeat what he said next! But it was Peter Schmeichel who had overheard and put the boss right.”
‘Fergie’ this week announced that he will step down from the hotseat at Old Trafford at the end of the season after 26 years, 1,500 games and no fewer than 38 trophies.
Bernard, who lives at Donington on Bain and is an East Londoner by origin, recalls how me met Sir Alex a number of times during his career, including at social functions, where he said his relationship with the Scot was always ‘positive’.
“He has a reputation for being abrasive with the media but to me he was always ok,” he said.
“I was surprised to hear the news of his retirement this week, I expected him to do another year. I don’t think he liked the way they went out of Europe so I though he’d give it another crack.
“I’m old enough to remember Matt Busby who was a magnificent man and manager, but I think Fergie just tops him.
“It was his absolute determination that sets him apart, even on park pitches he’d be heading every ball on the sidelines.
“That feeds into his players too, we’ve seen so many go on to become managers in their own right.
“He calls a spade a spade and his players respect him for that, that’s why you often see United much stronger in the second half of games after the half-time team talk.
“He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, when he’s talking to the press he doesn’t mind being asked awkward questions but it’s the stupid questions he doesn’t like.
“He’s saying ‘don’t waste my time’.”
Bernard also revealed the little-known fact that Sir Alex is a pianist after it was suggested to him that it might relieve stress.
Just 24 hours after revealing his retirement it was announced that Everton’s David Moyes had signed a six-year contract to replace Sir Alex at Old Trafford, but Bernard isn’t convinced the 50-year-old Scot has the credentials to fill Fergie’s substantial management shoes.
“I’d love to be wrong but I don’t think Moyes is the right man, there’s a major class difference between Manchester United and Everton,” he continued.
“He has precious little European experience and he’s not won any trophies with Everton.
“Finishing in the top eight every year is tantamount to a street party compared to Manchester United.”
Bernard said he believed Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho would have been the man to take United forward, but also gave a tongue-in-cheek mention to current Louth Town boss Daryl Clare.
“One of these days you will see Daryl as a manager of a major club,” he insisted.
Photo credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.