Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't rate Rafa Benitez

19 March 2009 09:15
Ferguson, who believes rival Arsene Wenger, Martin O'Neill and David Moyes are more worthy of praise than Benitez, has revealed some of his innermost thoughts in an interview with Alistair Campbell, the man who engineered Tony Blair's 1997 election victory, in the latest issue of the New Statesman.

The United manager was clear that selling Stam to Lazio in 2001 was his 'biggest mistake', while also expressing his regret that he never managed to sign Paul Gascoigne – 'a fabulous footballer who would have done brilliantly here".

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The United manager went on to pour scorn on the idea that United could go on and win the quintuple this season, while also attacking former players and managers who became television pundits.

Ferguson on the best managers in the Premier League: You'd have to say Arsene Wenger, David Moyes and Martin O'Neill.

Ferguson on Benitez's rant (earlier in the season): Weird. I really don't know what he was talking about. I'd be amazed if his staff or his players thought it was a good idea.

Ferguson on former managers and players turning pundits: Some of the ex-player, ex-manager pundits are the worst. It's a disgrace the way they sit there criticising guys they used to play with, just to make a bit of an impact. I couldn't do that.

Ferguson on retirement: Not for a while. I'm 67 now. My health's good. I still have the drive and the energy. I've been here more than 22 years, but I still get a buzz arriving at the training ground. I still get that tingle of excitement when the team bus draws up at an away ground before a big match. Or I see some of the young kids coming through, like the young Brazilian twins [Rafael and Fabio da Silva, of United] . . [In two years time?] That kind of area. We'll see.

Ferguson on who might replace him: United is a family club and I know they will want me to stay involved as an ambassador of some sort. If I'm asked my view I'll give it, but I won't be a back-seat driver. I'm not gone yet.

Ferguson on coaching a British team at London 2012: We'll see. I certainly support the idea of an Olympic team in principle, provided there is no danger at all to the individual identities of the smaller countries.

Ferguson on a dream United XI from his time in charge:'My problem is I have had so many great players that I can't do one dream team. I ask myself who were the players you could not leave out. Roy Keane, Scholes, Giggs — [I would] never, ever leave him out if I was playing my best team. Ronaldo and Cantona are both 'never leave out' players. You'd have Beckham knocking on the door. As for Rooney, if I left him out, I'd have to do it by email or I'd never hear the end of it. God, when you go through it like that, I have been blessed with terrific players.'

Ferguson on footballers' fame and fortune: Well, some footballers it might [change them for the worse], but look at [Manchester United's] Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, model professionals who have also handled the celebrity status well. So then the younger ones look up to them, too. And the job of the manager is to get the best out of them, and always be looking to the future as well.

Ferguson on changes since he joined United: The thing is, I have been here while all these changes have gone on and I've managed to adapt and help players adapt. I was here before agent power, before freedom of contract, before the really big money from TV kicked in. Part of my job is to make sure these lads keep their feet on the ground. I hammer it into them that the work ethic is what got them through the door here in the first place and they must never lose it.

Ferguson on the best players he ever saw: Pelé, [Alfredo] Di Stefano, [Diego] Maradona, [Johan] Cruyff.

Ferguson on greatest achievement at United: The treble [Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League] in 1999, and in particular the comeback at Barcelona against Bayern.

Ferguson on best goal his team have scored: Giggs against Arsenal at Villa Park [in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final]. Out of this world.

Ferguson on his biggest mistake: Letting go of Jaap Stam. No question.

Ferguson on his biggest disappointment: Not getting Gazza. He was a fabulous footballer and he would have done brilliantly here.

Ferguson on achieving the quintuple this season: No. The thing about cup football is you need to be the best, but you also need a lot of luck and I think it's asking too much for all the games to go your way. The one thing I will say is, this squad is the best I have ever had. Every game we play, I feel confident. At the moment, every attack fears our defence and every defence fears our midfield and attack. That gives you confidence, but it is too tough a call.

 

Source: Telegraph