EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

Inside United magazine's 200th issue featured a special edition of Ask Sir Alex, in which the questions came from celebrity fans and players past and present.

Inside United 200 is on sale now.
16/02/2009 13:52, Report by Adam Bostock
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Players ask Sir Alex

Previously on ManUtd.com, Sir Alex Ferguson answered questions from celebrity fans. Now the agenda is set by United players, past and present...

What do you consider to be the turning point in the early part of your United career?

Mickey Thomas

I think there were a few turning points. Obviously there was a big job to be done in terms of the restructuring of the club, from youth development right through. As I’d done in my early management at St Mirren and Aberdeen, I always felt having a youth programme was important. That was the foundation we built at this club. We held trials every week up at Albert Park in Salford on the floodlit Astroturf. We had meetings with the scouts to focus on exactly what their job was. I remember saying to them, “I don’t want the best boy in their street. I want the best boy in their town.”

So we worked really hard at the youth and you could start to see the fruits of that after a year and a half. I brought Les Kershaw in as chief scout, then I brought Brian Kidd in for youth development and local scouting, and we started to make ground. In those days, you could have trials all the time, in the way you can’t do now in the academy. We’d hold trials throughout the year - kids would come in for two or three weeks in August, two weeks in October, a week in December, two weeks in March.

Meanwhile, I felt the first team squad was too old to carry on challenging and we had to start changing that. In 1989, I brought in five players and we sold off about eight - Paul McGrath, Norman Whiteside, Gordon Strachan, Jesper Olsen, Peter Davenport, Chris Turner and Graeme Hogg. We gave a free transfer to Kevin Moran, Frank Stapleton and Mick Duxbury. We started to build a new team. But the biggest thing was the youth development, it was starting to progress.

When you retire from United, probably in another 20 years, would you accept the Scotland job if it was vacant? Denis Law

No, I won’t turn to international management. When I’ve finished here, I think I deserve a complete rest! I’ll be off to my wee butt ‘n’ ben (small holiday home). After here, I’m finished!

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