The recent events at Eastlands have served to emphasise the strong bond that ties former United players who now plough different Premier League furrows.
Manchester City’s decision to sack Mark Hughes last Saturday and install Roberto Mancini as his successor was met with surprise and outrage by some sections of the media.
One manager who leapt to Hughes’ defence was Steve Bruce, his team-mate for seven years at Old Trafford. The Sunderland manager, whose side had lost 4-3 to City just before the announcement, branded the decision as “unbelievable” and added that he was “really disappointed” for his counterpart.
It was a gesture of solidarity for an ex-Red that pleased Sir Alex Ferguson, who was himself surprised and unhappy to see Hughes go.
“I think everyone was shocked,” Sir Alex said. “I spoke to Mark the next day and I could tell he was suffering. I spoke to him about Steve Bruce, who was fantastic after the game.
“In football you have disputes with managers from time to time, but what Steve Bruce did was defend an old team-mate. They were both part of that great team of the ’90s and they all stood by each other – their loyalty to each other was fantastic.
“That team would fight for each other and that’s what Steve Bruce did. It was like he was saying, ‘that’s my team-mate you’re talking about’.
“I was really proud of Steve and I know Mark really appreciated it. Mark recognised the loyalty from his old team-mate which he didn’t get at City.”
Sir Alex was appalled by the way Hughes was treated but backed his former striker to come back stronger.
“It was unacceptable behaviour,” the Reds boss added. “It doesn't matter whether you have lost 20 games or two, there is a way to treat people.