Revealed: The Fergie blueprint – Man United boss reveals secrets of his success to Harvard academics
10:15 GMT, 19 December 2012
Read the full Fergie study
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Sir Alex Ferguson case study from Harvard Business School HERE
Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed for the first time the secrets of how he became the most successful manager in British football history.
The Manchester United manager opened up and provided a fascinating insight into his 26-year career at Old Trafford.
Ferguson, who will be 71
on New Year’s Eve, collaborated with academics at the prestigious
Harvard Business School in Boston studying his management style.
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The Fergie files: The key links
I want to pass on my expertise to the next generation of bosses, explains Fergie on decision to reveal all to Harvard professorsFergie in full: Tenor for a team talk, moving on from losing the title and why he's too Scottish to be like Mourinho – what the United boss told Harvard UniversityFerguson installed tanning booths so United players could top up their Vitamin D levels
He wanted to pass on his blueprint for managing one of the biggest sport clubs in the world and a global brand.
The ultimate decision maker, chief executive David Gill summed it up when he said: 'Steve Jobs was Apple. Sir Alex Ferguson is Manchester United.'
The in-depth study by Professor Anita Elberse and
Tom Dye – titled Sir Alex Ferguson: Managing Manchester United – reveals his blueprint for planning the season, match-day rituals, the
players he targets, keeping control of the dressing room and the
mistakes he made.
The study also shows how he prepares his team, the way he conducts his team-talks and
how he changes a game's direction at half-time.
Ferguson said: ‘I like to tell different stories, and
use my imagination. But generally, it is about our expectations, their
belief in themselves, and their trust in each other.
'I remember going to
see Andrea Bocelli, the opera singer. I had never been to a classical
concert in my life. But I am watching this and thinking about the
coordination and the teamwork, one starts and one stops, just fantastic.'
Ferguson also spoke about his ruthless streak in dealing with players.
He said: ‘We fine them, but we keep
it indoors. You can’t ever lose control — not when you are dealing with
thirty top professionals who are all millionaires. And if anyone steps
out of my control, that’s them dead.’
Driven: Sir Alex's will to win is legendary, above, but he also has a softer side, below
But the Scot admitted he had been forced to change his approach during his time at Old Trafford,
‘Players these days have lived more sheltered lives, so they are much more fragile now than 25 years ago,' he said.
‘I was very aggressive all those years ago. I am passionate and want to win all the time. But today I’m more mellow.
'And I can better handle those more fragile players now. There’s all this hype about hairdryers and anger and so on.
'You can't always come in shouting and screaming. That doesn't work.
there’s another side to it, which is more in terms of how I have
fostered relations with people and developed the team over the years.
Video: How Bocelli inspired Fergie
a player – and for any human being – there's nothing better than
hearing 'well done'. Those are the two best words ever invented in
Ferguson admitted he was on a mission after losing the Premier League title to Manchester City last season
He said: ‘Another day in the history of Manchester United, that’s all it was. It created the drama that only United can produce. Who would have thought that Blackburn, being bottom of the league, would beat us 3-2 at Old Trafford Or that Everton would draw with us when we were up 4-2 with seven minutes to go'
He knew the dynamic of the ‘Manchester derby’ had intensified, however, and that this latest challenge could not have hit any closer to home.
He added: 'I’ve still got a wee bit of anger in me, thinking of how we threw the league away last season. My motivation to the players will be that we can’t let City beat us twice in a row.'
Ferguson also visited Harvard to take a class on management.
told the official college newspaper Harvard Gazette: 'When you're
approached by an institution like Harvard, you know you are dealing with
'I had to consider that I was opening myself up to something I've never done before.
at this stage of my life, I felt that I'm helping young people progress
through their own routes to management, then ultimately that was an
important and compelling factor for me.
part of the discussion from which I learned the most about myself was
when they were discussing the balance between 'fear' and 'love' in my
approach to managing people.
Challenge: Sir Alex Ferguson has had to change his approach over the years
'If you look at my history, there's all this hype about hair-dryers and anger and so on.
'But the students acknowledged another side to it, which is more apt in terms of how I've fostered relations with people and developed the team over the years.'
Ferguson also gave an impromptu pep talk to the college's American football team.
Head coach Carl Junot said: 'They were expecting me to come in and given them the practice plan and in walks Alex Ferguson. They were blown away.'