Why Sir Alex was back in Carrington this week

Tuesday 23 May 2023 16:13

Manchester United icon Sir Alex Ferguson was back in Carrington on Tuesday to inspire a group of players for a much-anticipated final - although it isn’t quite what you are thinking.

Our legendary former manager visited rugby union side Sale Sharks at their neighbouring training ground, which is situated a mile or so up the road from our own complex.

Sir Alex was invited by head coach Alex Sanderson to address the squad ahead of Saturday’s huge Premiership final at Twickenham – the club’s first since 2006. 

Our former boss reportedly attended his first rugby match at Sale six years ago, and he provided some words of inspiration, as you can see in the video below. 

The clip, shared by our friends at Sale, shows Sir Alex joking about our 1996 FA Cup final victory against Liverpool and their infamous pre-match suits...
Watch a clip of Sir Alex's speech to the Sale Sharks squad.

“To lose, you don't want to lose,” says the ex-Reds boss. “I wish you all the best on Saturday. 

“The thing is, I'm telling you, don't wear a white suit for Christ's sake [laughs]! Concentration - you're not there to enjoy it, you're there to win.” 

Sale are preparing to face Saracens at the weekend in a battle between this season's first and second-placed teams.

Kick-off at Twickenham is scheduled for 15:00 BST and fans in the UK can watch it live on ITV or BT Sport.

We wish Sale well and will watch with interest. Good luck! 


This is not the first time Sir Alex has rallied a rugby team, by the way.

The United legend previously visited England before the 2019 World Cup and his impact was praised by head coach Eddie Jones. 

Interestingly, in an interview with The Athletic in 2020, Jones admitted his approach to half-time team-talks had been influenced by Sir Alex. 

“I’ll give you an example,” Jones was quoted as saying. “We played Samoa, who we should beat pretty easily. At half-time, we’re ahead by five points. Sloppy. Just going through the motions. 

“Fifteen years ago, I would have gone in and I would have blasted. I went in - and I actually got this idea after having lunch with Sir Alex Ferguson - and I changed the whole routine of half-time.

Former England head coach Eddie Jones changed his motivational methods after meeting Sir Alex.

“So I said, ‘Boys, come in here’ and I just said to them, ‘This isn’t good enough. Fix it. So when we get back together, you have the solution’.

“So you’re making the point you’re unhappy but you’re doing it in a way where they own the problem now, rather than you imposing your problem on them and I got a really good result out of them in the second half.”

Golf enthusiast Sir Alex also spoke to Europe's Ryder Cup team in 2014 at the invitation of captain Paul McGinley. The team went on to win the trophy that year.

When speaking about it post-event, McGinley said: “I didn’t have all the answers when I was made Ryder Cup captain, so I liked the idea of having some mentors around me for advice because managing elite players is not easy.

“I looked around and Sir Alex Ferguson had just retired from Manchester United, and I’d played golf with him 10 years previously, so I thought he would be a guy that I could do with having on my shoulder.

Sir Alex spoke to Team Europe before the 2014 Ryder Cup.
“Even if we only met up for two or three times over the two-year period, I could ask him some questions and that’s what I did.

“We had lunches and two or three meetings, and I would get all my data out and have some specific questions prepared for him that I wanted to get his insight on. For example one of them was, I’d played in three Ryder Cup teams myself and I was always 6 to 12 in the team and never one of those elite players.

“Therefore, how do you manager the superstars? How did he manage Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes? How do I manage Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood – those kinds of players because they are on a different level to what I was.

“I understood how to manage a rookie such as Stephen Gallacher that came into the team because I was that kind of solider myself! They were the kinds of things I was looking for.”