Sir Alex Ferguson has reflected on his career at Manchester United and admits he ‘hated’ having to let young players go during his managerial reign.
Ferguson became the most successful manager in football history during a glittering career with the Red Devils, winning two Champions League trophies and 13 league titles to establish the club as England’s dominant force.
United won a first league title in 26 years during the Premier League‘s inaugural season before dominating the landscape over the next two decades, and Ferguson has opened up on the challenges of rebuilding the side and continuing success.
The Scot discussed the regrets of his tenure and revealed it was difficult to break up his successful side of the early nineties, admitting it was hard to move on ageing players who had brought the club such success.
“In terms of the regrets, the 1994 team I had, the back four all seemed to grow old together, and that’s a terrible thing to happen to the manager because these guys were fantastic for me,” Ferguson said, promoting the upcoming documentary Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In.
“Paul Parker, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Denis Irwin: Fantastic players. They gave me nine or 10 years and the evidence is always on the football field. They don’t see it. I see it.
“The problem for me is ‘What do I do about it?’ I managed to organise a move for them, and they did well out of it, but telling them is very, very difficult.”
Ferguson’s reign also saw the introduction of several academy graduates into the side who would go on to become legendary figures at Old Trafford, the fabled ‘Class of ’92’ forming the backbone of the side throughout the nineties and early 2000s.
For every successful player brought through, there were many more who were allowed to leave, and Ferguson says ending the ambitions of starlets dreaming of playing for the club was the thing he ‘hated’ most.
“The same when having to let young players go,” he added. “The process was the youth coach and the welfare chap would come in with the player you’re going to let go.
“Maybe he’s only 17, 18 years of age. The way we’d explain it is we’d try and get him a team. We’d try and get him a club and ‘We’re sorry we’re having to do this.’ That’s terrible.
“That is the worst thing, having to let a young player go. All his ambitions and hopes and desires are about playing for Manchester United in front of 75,000 people and going to Wembley in a final.
“That’s the ambition of every young kid that comes to Manchester United, and when you take that away from him, it’s a sore, sore thing. So I hated that. I hated that.”