Gary Neville has revealed how legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s penchant for mind games extended beyond just opposition coaches, but the wily Scot also did his best to effect other teams players.
Fergie is the man most synonymous with so-called mind games during the Premier League era, with the former Red Devils boss notorious for winding up opposition managers with his deliberate public comments.
However, Neville has revealed how Fergie also tried to use his fearful reputation to psych out visiting teams in the Old Trafford tunnel before games.
“He always used to stand in the tunnel before every single game, outside the dressing room, and shake every single one of our players’ hands,” Neville told the Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? Podcast.
“But I didn’t realise until I was the captain that what he was doing, he was looking down the tunnel so the opposition players saw him and the referee saw him.
“It’s a bit of intimidation. He was an overpowering figure. This idea of winning in the tunnel before you’ve even gone out on the pitch, there was an element of that with him in terms of the psychology.
“When handshakes were introduced, he used to say, ‘Make sure you look into the eyes of every single player you shake hands with when you walk down that line. Hold it strong and look right into their eyes.’
“He said, ‘And you know something, one or two of them will fold,’ because there’s a sternness in it – it’s a message or challenge.
“He did these things – techniques – that didn’t maybe work all the time but he was always looking for that advantage.”
One man who cracked because of Fergie’s mind games was former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, who went on this epic ‘facts’ rant after being wound up by the legendary United boss.