Manchester United altercations that influenced Sir Alex Ferguson’s greats include, “When he apologizes, I’ll probably say hello.”

Many Manchester United players, including Roy Keane, David Beckham, and Wayne Rooney, engaged in firefighting during the team’s heyday under its legendary Scottish manager.

Sir Alex Ferguson was known for giving Manchester United players the “hairdryer treatment” in an effort to get more out of them on the field, but there were also instances when the legendary manager turned the intensity up to 11 off the field, straining some professional relationships in the process.

Except for one prominent instance, that situation typically only resulted in one outcome.

When Sir Alex was in charge, United particularly made winning trophies and fights a habit during the 1990s and 2000s. The latter aided since their unmatched competitive edge spilled over during practices, games, and the occasional knees-up, contributing to regular and virtually constant silverware!

When one considers Sir Alex and fights, several names come to mind. While the footballer-turned-pundit hasn’t exactly let up on his enmity toward the Scot since hanging up his boots, Roy Keane will almost likely be front and center for any Google search to that song.

As much as I don’t like to harbor grudges, Keane declared in 2019 on the Off The Ball podcast that he “wouldn’t forgive Ferguson”: “The media hype and how I allegedly displeased everyone were all rubbish. Whether it’s the Pope or Alex Ferguson, you’re going to protect yourself.

“I’ll probably say hello to him when he apologizes, absolutely. However, I have no desire to converse with the man.

Keane and Sir Alex’s relationship did not start or stop there, as the feisty Irishman frequently criticized his former manager in the studio or in his two memoirs. He may have said and done a lot, but once the toxicity got out, their relationship was doomed from the start.

After a shocking loss to Middlesbrough in 2005—in which Keane wasn’t even listed on the teamsheet due to injury—that infamous interview with MUTV sparked the fuse, and an enormous explosion naturally followed. For over two decades, the specifics have been discussed, disputed, and conjectured upon, but Keane’s contract was terminated a month later. The last time the United States saw or heard from Keane in an official capacity was when he briefly returned to his old team Celtic before retiring.

Keane wasn’t the only stalwart of United who had Sir Alex call for a taxi to take him to the end of the road.

In 2001, Jaap Stam, who had been a colossus at the back for three years on either side of the millennium, was forced to leave for Lazio after writing some less than flattering things about his then-manager in what appeared to be a candid autobiography. Even winning championships in each of his seasons couldn’t keep Stam from getting fired.

Speaking of boots, Sir Alex is said to have kicked the most notorious one in Premier League history and clashed with none other than ‘Golden Balls’ himself in the midst of an FA Cup loss to Arsenal.

David Beckham’s superb looks were unaffected by a cut and scar above the eyeline, and if anything, they were highlighted by the bad boy persona he briefly adopted. Unfortunately, the then-England captain was leaving for Real Madrid only a few months after the scene from February 2003, and United needed a brand-new No. 7.

That worked out pretty well, as Cristiano Ronaldo quickly rose to prominence, became the best player in the world, and then made the same trip to the Santiago Bernabeu. Sir Alex and Ronaldo had a father-son-like bond that was unaffected by Ronaldo’s presence.

Beckham and Sir Alex had a similar dynamic before Beckham was expelled, both literally and figuratively, and they have since repaired more damage than Beckham’s left eyebrow, it would appear.

However, Sir Alex took some time to forget about that one, as he noted in his autobiography from 2013. “The story was in the press the following day,” he wrote. In those days, I advised the board that David had to leave after a public performance by an Alice band exposed the harm caused by the boot. A Manchester United player had to leave the moment he believed he was superior to the coach. Then Beckham left.

Beckham and Sir Alex have reconciled in recent years, assuaging those with a taste for nostalgia, and whenever the free-kick expert addresses his former manager – or ‘The Boss,’ at he calls him – there is an appreciation of what Sir Alex did for him and what they accomplished together insquad that defined a generation.

However, others there at the time continue to make fun of the boot swinging in the changing room. Then-assistant manager Carlos Quieroz responded when questioned about the event in an interview with FourFourTwo magazine: “It’s time to uncover the truth behind that narrative…

“I was in the dressing room that day, and let’s be clear: it wasn’t a good shot because the boot first struck a table before moving toward Beckham. Sorry, Sir Alex, but your left foot wasn’t quite as excellent as you thought.

Paul Ince and Ruud van Nistelrooy, who clashed with Sir Alex in 1995 and 2006, respectively, were arguably sold at the height of their powers, with Inter Milan and Real swooping in, while the Scot managed to do something even Keane might have approved of when picking his own fight with Peter Schmeichel.

In 1994, after criticizing the great Dane for a number of things during a 3-3 draw with Liverpool, Sir Alex ‘ordered’ him to find himself a new club even though Keane and Schmeichel had yet to exchange blows in a charming Hong Kong hotel as opposed to beneath the Las Vegas backdrop befitting for such a heavyweight showdown.

In 2020, Rooney spoke at length with the UTD Podcast and stated: “I think it’s good [his relationship with the fans]. When I requested to leave the club in 2010, which I was granted, it [also] suffered. I can relate to the supporters’ annoyance with that. But once more, I was dissatisfied with the direction the club was taking.

“The transfer request was made quickly, and I now regret it. Decisions were made on impulse rather than after sitting down and giving them some thought.”

“I don’t believe it was forgotten right away. In the first few games, I could sense the stress, and some fans undoubtedly still feel it today. I recognize that. That’s your job as a fan.

club and I can comprehend that predicament.

“From my perspective, I was concentrating, working hard, and attempting to succeed. Although I was aware of what I wanted at the time, I probably shouldn’t have gone into Sir Alex’s office and said it.

That kind of altercations have decreased, along with standards and trophies, ever since the renowned manager decided to step down following the club’s most recent Premier League victory in 2012/2013. However, there have been sporadic attempts to bring the past’s glory into the present.

Jose Mourinho would never enter Old Trafford without leaving his mark in both literal and figurative ways. Love him or hate him, the Portuguese won trophies for the team in Europe, but the Premier League and the Champions League, which Mourinho and United wanted, eluded them till his public firing in December 2018.

Shaw and Mourinho battled it out in different situations. Both players outlived the boss, who is still in place at Old Trafford despiteput his career back on course.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took control and scarcely veered off course away from the field, while Erik ten Hag is currently considering how to manage Jadon Sancho following their remarkable public spat when Ten Hag dropped his forward during the Arsenal game. On that, we’ll get into more detail.

When dealing with Ronaldo last season, Ten Hag channeled his inner Sir Alex, but current situation with Sancho threatens to attract considerably more public attention than his unmatched predecessor would prefer. Whether it was right or wrong, Sir Alex wanted to keep his altercations private, and any coverage that did occur became legend.



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