'Who doesn't want to play under Sir Alex?'

Sunday 26 June 2022 07:00

Former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves lauds Sir Alex Ferguson in the new episode of the UTD Podcast, explaining how his former boss “controlled the show” and created a winning culture.

After growing up in Canada and rising through the youth ranks at Bayern Munich, Hargreaves arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2007.

The England international stayed at United for four years, making 39 appearances during that time and scoring twice.

Hargreaves won the Premier League and the Champions League in his debut season with the Reds, but recurring injuries led to the midfielder’s outings being sporadic in future seasons.

Hargreaves was unveiled alongside fellow new signing Nani in the summer of 2007.

In the summer of 2011, Hargreaves’ contract expired, and he spent a season at Manchester City before retiring from football. Today, the former midfielder features regularly on the television as a pundit and often covers United matches due to his affiliation with our club.

As you will hear when you listen to Hargreaves’ episode of the UTD Podcast - available from Monday in the United App – he champions Sir Alex and the respect that the Scot commanded from his players.

“I remember [when I arrived] he just said: ‘these fans are very knowledgeable and it was a bit along the lines of ‘you give them your best, they’ll appreciate that.’ Before I came we spoke so much and he was one of the driving forces, one of the reasons why I wanted to come. Who doesn’t want to play under Sir Alex?

“He has this authority, this natural authority that everybody respected which was so important in a dressing room of 25 talented people from all over the world that are well paid. But he controlled the show.

“I remember my first game, we played City away and we were losing 1-0 at half-time. We were walking off, and I was in midfield and Rio was behind me. And the half’s finished so you’re a bit tired or whatever, and Rio [Ferdinand] was jogging behind me and he said, ‘Owen, hurry up, the gaffer’s going to go mental.’ I said, ‘yeah but it’s half-time, I’m tired I’ll get in there when [I get there].’ He said, ‘Owen hurry up.’ Rio was anticipating that the gaffer could get upset, and we get in there and he said the complete opposite. He said ‘you guys have played great. I don’t know how we are losing. Keep playing the way you play, [and] you’ll win the game.’

“We didn’t win the game, but I never forgot that, because Rio’s quite a character isn’t he? Just the fact that he did that [jogged in] knowing what could [happen], it showed how much control Sir Alex had of the dressing room. I think that was so important because we just didn’t want to let the boss down. We all played with that intensity, and he demanded that. I think pretty much the reason he signed anyone was that he knew they would give him that.

“One of the things he said to me, I’ll never forget it, was, 'Owen we signed you to help us win the Champions League. You can be a part of that.' That was one of the big reasons I wanted to come. [I wanted] to be a part of this team, play at this stadium, with these fans. That group of players we had was just out of this world. You just wanted to be a piece of the puzzle.”

The Owen Hargreaves episode of UTD Podcast will be available on ManUtd.com and in the United App from Monday. You can find all previous episodes here.