team out to contest the Carling Cup final against Tottenham
at Wembley today, many will imagine that football's most famous pensioner must have mellowed after so many years of unprecedented success. But not Rio Ferdinand.
In fact, United's current captain scoffs at the suggestion the Ferguson 'hairdryer' - the 67-year-old Scot's infamous means of scaring the living daylights out of anyone who fails to measure up to his own high expectations - has been consigned to the dustbin of history as a relic of a bygone era.
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For in a wide-ranging interview to be published this week, Ferdinand confirms that the man who today chases the 41st trophy of his managerial career is still well capable of employing the sort of man-management techniques that many assumed had long since gone out of fashion.
'In the old days, players would expect to get hammered by the manager,' said Ferdinand. 'But they're not as thick-skinned any more. These young foreign kids come in and when the manager lets off, it's like, "Whoah! Where did that come from? That's not allowed". I've seen them turn pink, and black guys turn white. It's not pretty, it's unbelievable!
BOSS MAN: Rio Ferdinand hauls Derby's Rob Hulse to his feet during United's Cup victory over County
'I got the full force after a Champions League game in Benfica. At the time, I was exploding because I thought he was being unfair. But if you talk back to him, he just keeps going louder and louder until you shut up.
'The worst we've seen is after we have behaved badly on a night out. Then, the fireworks explode and he goes bananas. Everyone's heads are on the floor, desperately trying not to catch his eye. And he's right to do it and we all know that if we do it again, we'll be out the door.'
Ferguson's enduring intensity and drive are the key to the continuing dominance of United, who will show a real glimpse into their future - even a Ferguson-less future - with their starting team today.
Sir Alex is well on the way to building his fifth great team, blending homegrown youngsters such as Darron Gibson and Danny Welbeck with his own signings and the best that the wise old heads of the dressing room - 30-year-old Ferdinand among them - now have to offer.
Home-grown talent: Danny Welbeck
'People always ask me what he's really like, but it's hard to put it into words,' added Ferdinand. 'He's a winner, full stop. And he's in the know on everything. If you're sneaking off out to a club, he'll find out. And you think, "How did he know?" The answer is that a lot of people want to please him by giving him information on the players.'
Nobody over the past few weeks has wanted to incur the manager's wrath. All are desperate for the chance to win United
's first proper piece of silverware this season - they won the lightly-regarded World Club Championship before Christmas - and that includes Ferdinand.
'We don't undervalue the Carling Cup,' he said. 'We want to win it. We all want to know what team the manager is going to put out. There will be players in it who will be attempting to win their first trophy and the opportunity to do that does not come too often.
'Who knows what's going to happen next season? Some of them might have moved on. I've already been on to him about wanting to play, but he wasn't giving anything anyway. Anybody who doesn't play in the match is going to be disappointed, I'm telling you that much. It's another chance to win a medal and I want as many as I can. We won the Champions League last season and the League. Hopefully we can win both again. We want to set ourselves apart from the rest in the club's history.
'But I don't want to talk about the possibility of winning five medals. I don't want to look that far ahead. We've got the game on Sunday, let's get that one out of the way before we start talking about the next challenge.
SHARP-DRESSED MAN: Rio Ferdinand
'We will treat Tottenham
with the respect they deserve. They won the trophy last season and are a talented team. We want to beat them. We want to be the best, but we still have to prove we can be.'
An added incentive for Ferdinand to get a starting spot, of course, is that he would be facing Harry Redknapp, his first manager at West Ham
and the man who helped him develop from the flash young Peckham kid into England captaincy material.
As a former team-mate and close friend of the late, great Bobby Moore, Redknapp thought so highly of the teenage Ferdinand that he deliberately used the image of England's World Cup-winning captain to inspire him.
'Redknapp would sit in his office with a big picture of Bobby Moore on the wall and he used to point at it whenever I got into trouble and say, "He wouldn't have done that. He liked a drink but didn't get into bother, you've got to be like him on and off the pitch",' said Ferdinand.
Harry makes you feel 7ft 4in, a million dollars, so when you walk down that tunnel you are raring to go.'
At England level, Ferdinand does not believe he has been quite so lucky with his managers, with Fabio Capello the first decent boss since Glenn Hoddle, despite the Italian preferring to retain Chelsea
's John Terry as captain.
'Hoddle was one of the best England coaches I worked with,' said Ferdinand. 'Kevin Keegan wasn't my cup of tea. He didn't like the way I played, and I didn't like the way he managed.
'Sven Goran Eriksson knew what he wanted, it was just a shame he seemed to have more passionate things going on away from football. That distracted from his ability as a manager. And one thing's for sure about Steve McClaren, I don't think you will ever see an England boss ever hiding under an umbrella.
Brolly good boss: Steve McClaren
'I was hoping Fabio Capello got the job after Steve because he is one of the best in history. He doesn't have as bad a hairdryer as the gaffer, but if he has a bee in his bonnet, he'll let you know.'
After the controversy of England's last World Cup campaign in Germany, when the wives and girlfriends enjoyed almost more publicity as the team disappointed yet again, Ferdinand hopes Capello makes the right decision about the team's preparations if they get to South Africa next year.
'I wouldn't let them (WAGs) anywhere near the team,' said Ferdinand, in an interview with GQ magazine.
'They're a distraction and the players start thinking they should go out with them to the shops or whatever when they should be resting without distractions. You might go to three World Cups in your whole career if you're lucky. Why ruin it for a cuddle?'
For now, Ferdinand is concentrating on winning silverware with United. And he would rather do that than get paid £500,000 a week to move across town to moneybags Manchester City
- and not just because they are local rivals.
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'I talked about this with Patrice (Evra) and Wazza (Wayne Rooney) and we were asking each other what we'd do if City came in with ridiculous offers,' he said. 'And none of us would go. 'I wouldn't go to City whatever they offered me because I'm loyal to United, and because . . . what are they going to win? I couldn't wake up in the morning and have people say, "He's sold his soul. For money".
'I didn't go to United just to make more money. I knew I could win things there that I couldn't at Leeds. I want medals not money. I want to end my career by looking at my trophy cabinet and thinking, "I did OK".'