He spoke at Harvard Business School, where scientists have summarized his ideas in a management book for business leaders.
But nothing captures the essence of why Sir Alex Ferguson was a series winner more than a few fragments from the new film about his life and near death, Never Give In.
Ferguson tells the story of a scene at Salford Royal Hospital in May 2018 when he seemed to be recovering from the cerebral hemorrhage that was balancing his life and suddenly becomes confused with 14 of his family, grandchildren and everyone. together in his room.
Sir Alex Ferguson has pondered the brain haemorrhage he suffered in May 2018
Ferguson’s wife, Lady Cathy, is among those speaking in this extraordinary new film
‘My voice fell silent. I’m trying to understand the words… ”he says, simulating how he tried to speak but couldn’t. “I’m trying to force it out and you can’t get it out …”
It was the loss of memory and speech, more than the prospect of death – which doctors initially estimated to be 80 percent likely – that frightened him. At the suggestion of the doctors, he began to write: feverishly and relentlessly, writing down the names of people, games, players and teams.
It was a way of somehow neural connection with everything he knew. The first of these scribbles, which he revisits and reads back in the film, shows how terribly fragile this process really was in the beginning.
Legendary ex-Manchester United star Eric Cantona explains how Ferguson made the players tick
Gordon Strachan, who has been to Aberdeen and United with Ferguson, is in the documentary
He had been given a notepad that was obviously just lying around with the open side saying “The Puzzles”. What he wrote under it was confused and barely legible. Many words were written in black pen and then scratched out. “Remembering … that … had … that … remembering.”
The great silence of the film is one of its many qualities, and we just see Ferguson reread that page. “God,” he says after a while. “I’m actually not in control yet. In the football world and at United, I’m in control of the situation. I’m still out of control. ‘
An interview filmed in his house in July 2018, 10 weeks after a life-saving operation, shows how long it actually took to return. This was the sequel to a series of filmed memories his son Jason began with him in 2016, before Ferguson suffered the bleeding and collapsed in a shoe rack in that house. (Fateful because it was the sound of shoes falling off that made his wife walk.)
Ferguson stated that losing was part of the progress that helped him become successful
He looks terribly frail as he prepares to speak, declines the offer of water, but takes quite a while to clear his throat.
“What you realize is what happens when you die,” he finally says. “In the moments when you are alone, this fear and loneliness creeps into your mind. You don’t want to die and there I was. I don’t want … I won’t die. I do not wanna die. These things go through my head quite often. ‘
The film shows a remarkable recovery in the three years since then. The opening scene shows him being asked to answer a series of questions the film’s director Jason asked him: street of the house you were born in, wedding anniversary, scorer of the first goal for your Manchester United team .
He answers them all correctly and takes on the challenge when John Sivebaek’s name rolls off his tongue.
It’s tempting to believe that with his competitive instinct, he wanted this test in the first place. Proof that he saw another demon with the same accursed, bloody will to win that led him through so many dark tunnels in football.
The film hovers well above any score. The reason Ferguson dropped out with Wayne Rooney, Roy Keane, and David Beckham aren’t even given a walk-in role is because they’re temporary players who have a great view of management history. (Though Beckham provides a corner that, oddly enough, United is one of a series of repeated images that stumbled through Ferguson’s head in the first few weeks of his recovery.)
Instead, the focus is on the monumental challenges that this individual has mastered. Particularly noteworthy is a section dedicated to bringing Aberdeen to European glory after training her on the North Sea beach and in public parks.
Ferguson was very motivated at the time by his rejection as a player by the Rangers after his current defensive loss in the club’s disastrous 1969 Scottish Cup final. “Winning was always based on my own attitude towards failure,” he says. “Losing is part of progress.”
In the background is Govan, the shipbuilding town in Glasgow which he loved and which he had to flee at the same time.
A place of austerity and community alike. It defined and shaped him, and the footage of the place conveyed more than any word really why it meant so much to him. “I’m from Govan. A Govan boy. ‘
An element of his toughness has always carried over into his management. Ryan Giggs vividly describes how Ferguson attacked him so furiously after his poor performance in the first half against Juventus in a 1996 Champions League draw that he tossed him a drink with black currants at his feet.
Ryan Giggs recalled how Ferguson reacted violently after his performance against Juventus in 1996
Jim Leighton (R) was devastated after Ferguson dropped him for the final 1990 FA Cup rerun
The decision to ditch Jim Leighton for the final iteration of the 1990 FA Cup that United won is another of the film’s scorching episodes, made more intense because Leighton just couldn’t hold back his immense sadness. He’s red-eyed and close to tears in a television interview in which he says he knows his days in the United States are now over.
“We never spoke again,” says Ferguson. “You are losing a friend or someone you gave their first opportunity to. But make no mistake, it was the right decision. ‘
But as Gary Neville used to say about his former manager, there was always an immense ability to understand individually what made his players tick: a fundamental humanity that underpins everything. Eric Cantona’s contribution to the film is the most precise definition of it.
In the film, the former United manager talks about fear, loneliness and the desire not to die
Nowhere in the film do we hear any talk of tactics or pressure, formations or three-man defense.
Some argue that Ferguson would not be able to compete with the top managers of the day. The fact that today’s teams have precision, finesse and energy makes his old United teams look primitive and slow in comparison.
That assumes that Ferguson would not have adapted to the relentless changes in the game. But it also assumes that the refusal to give in and the sheer strength of personality are no longer the most important factors in football management.
Ask the Brendan Rodgers and David Moyes players who are some of the richest teams this season.
In September 2018, Ferguson finally felt strong enough to return to his beloved Old Trafford. The title of the film, which comes from the interview he gave after winning the Champions League in 1999 against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp, applies to these last three years as well as to his football days.
Adversity is part of your life, he says. “When it happens, you will find yourself. This is my upbringing. Never give in ‘
Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In will be released in UK theaters May 27th. Available from May 29 on Amazon Prime Video