Ron, I signed for him at West Brom a couple of years later, but even just going along somewhere for an hour, which is what the night was, just didn’t feel the right thing to do. People come and go in football and you just get on with it.”
Out of the title race and dumped out of the League Cup by Southampton 48 hours earlier, there appeared little to toast at Old Trafford. The timing of the incident, discussed by Sir Alex in his 1999 autobiography, Managing My Life, had left a rather bitter taste in the new boss’s mouth. “When I heard about these activities, I could hardly bear to contemplate the implication that the players involved did not care a monkey’s about the fact that I was arriving as their boss the next morning,” he said.
Paul McGrath, who played in midfield at the Manor Ground, was clearly feeling the after-effects of his refuelling on the Saturday. “He did not have the stamina for the job. He was so knackered I had to take him off,” said Ferguson.
The culture of “social club, not football club” as Ferguson noted, had to go and of course it did. There were also early signs that the senior players felt their new boss was a man to be reckoned with. Mike Duxbury says: “You could see right from the off that he had his own ideas and ways of going about things and that the club was going to change for the good. As everybody knows, it certainly didn’t happen overnight, but when it did…”
After the game, Kevin Moran, showed an instinct for clairvoyancy in his comments to the press. “It was like a breath of fresh air when he came in at half-time,” he told the Daily Mail. “I was surprised how quickly he put his finger on what we were doing wrong. What he wants to get done at Old Trafford, he’ll get done,” he added. “I think he’ll get a tremendous response from the players.
Sir Alex immediately understood that United was a club where success should be expected.