Ferguson sought a 'mental toughness' from his Manchester United stars

Sir Alex Ferguson reveals how demanding ‘mental toughness’ from his players was one of the keys to his success at Man United and says his knack for spotting star talents like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo came down to an ‘instinct’

  • Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed the main personality trait he sought in his players 
  • The Scot oversaw a glittering era of success while at Manchester United 
  • Ferguson, 79, said that he expected a ‘mental toughness’ from his stars
  • The United legend added that he relied on ‘instinct’ when recruiting players 

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he demanded a ‘mental toughness’ in his players as the Manchester United legend opened up on how he relied on instinct in the transfer market. 

The Scot nurtured some of the greatest footballing talents over the course of his 27-year tenure at Old Trafford, guiding the club to 13 league titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League triumphs in that time. 

The 79-year-old was credited for his adeptness to the modern demands of the game, evolving his side to maintain their dominance at the top of English football.

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he sought a ‘mental toughness’ from his Man United stars

But Ferguson says that he sought a ‘mental toughness’ from every side he coached, regardless of natural ability. 

Speaking to the United’s official website ahead of the release of his new documentary – Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In, the Scot outlined that he expected his players to have the same determination that he had.

‘Some players I had were absolute natural footballers, with natural talent. But there were other players who shared my determination, who maybe weren’t the best players but they made themselves the best players, because they had something inside them too. 

The 79-year-old oversaw the club’s most successful era, guiding them to 13 league titles

Ferguson says that he wanted ‘Alec Ferguson in my team’ to reflect his desire to win

‘I go back to one of my first defeats as a manager, at 32 years of age. I didn’t expect it. I went into the game eyes wide open, that this was going to be easy. We lost 5-2 to Albion Rovers. I was the manager of East Stirling, the players were on £5 a week, or something like that. 

‘I came home and I said “if I don’t get Alec Ferguson in my team, I’m not going to succeed”. So I made sure that my players had a mental toughness about them, from that moment on.’

Ferguson also enjoyed success in the transfer market, recruiting the likes of Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo who became global superstars under his tutelage at Old Trafford. 

The Scot added that he often relied on instinct when recruiting players to Old Trafford 

Ferguson had huge success in the transfer market, signing greats like Cristiano Ronaldo 

The 79-year-old said that ‘instinct’ played a major role in his judgment of players.

‘I believe in instinct. I had a good instinct about players and I had a good instinct about watching players who I maybe wanted to buy. 

‘I knew that, looking at certain players, I could see traits that told me they were Manchester United players, or Aberdeen players, or St Mirren players. I could see that in certain players I watched. Instinct was really important.’

Ferguson and United’s longevity at the top of the game will be difficult to match, with last season’s champions Liverpool putting in a pitiful effort to defend their crown. The Scot said that he never became bored of his success.

The 79-year-old also revealed the mindset behind his longevity and years of success

‘Well, the alternative is enjoying getting beat! That was not part of my life,’ he added. 

‘Listen, I could encapsulate it in this way. If I’m going to walk into the training ground at Carrington as the manager of Manchester United, and I look out on that football field and I see this fantastic training ground, why wouldn’t I want to go in there every day? The only way you can do that is being successful.

‘So, being bored? I was never bored in my life, about anything.’

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