Sir Alex Ferguson admits he "missed out on a really good person" in Jordan Henderson
"It tells me I missed out on a really good person."
Back in 2013, Alex Ferguson had a book coming out not long after he had retired as Manchester United boss, and there were a couple of shots fired in the direction of his old rivals, Liverpool.
The Scot noted in his book that the Reds had paid too much for Stewart Downing, they were eight players short of a title challenge and that Steven Gerrard, for all his talents, was not a 'top, top player'. And then there was Jordan Henderson.
Ferguson remarked upon Henderson's gait when playing and predicted that he could be set for some time on the sidelines if that was not corrected. It was hardly the worst of his slights but then-Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers called the comments "inappropriate".
"I think if Sir Alex ever bumps into Jordan he might want to apologise for that," Rodgers fired back.
"The comment surprised me, I have to be honest, coming from someone with such status in the game. Maybe it was meant as flippant but to a young player making his way in the game it could be damaging. Every player is different, and every player at this club has had his strengths and weaknesses medically assessed. The statement in terms of Jordan was inappropriate."
Henderson has gone on to play 318 times for Liverpool since those Ferguson comments and make 51 further appearances (and counting) for England. He did have injury issues over a two-year stretch (2015 to 2017) but has had a relatively clear run of it and has grown into a real leader at Liverpool, raising the European Cup and Premier League title in the space on 15 months.
During 'A Team Talk With Legends' panel session that also featured Jürgen Klopp, Kenny Dalglish and Gareth Southgate - held in in aid of Sports United Against Dementia and the League Managers Association's charity In The Game - Ferguson dismissed that criticism from Rodgers and set the record straight.
"There was criticism from Brendan Rodgers about my assessment of Jordan," Ferguson began.
"The actual story was we were ready to make a bid for him at Sunderland. I spoke to Steve Bruce and he loved the guy. And then, our scouting and medical department said they weren’t happy with his running style; he could be the type to have injuries."
"I must say it was one of my bits of management to make sure the player is always available. If you sign a player and he is not available for you, it is a waste of time so that is the point I have to make about Jordan.
"We loved him as a player and he has proved that now, he has been fantastic and all the stories I am being told, it tells me I missed out on a really good person."
Ferguson, then, is a fan of the midfielder and is happy to acknowledge that he may have made the wrong call, back in 2011.
The 13-time Premier League-winning managerial legend also remarked, during the panel session, that he is happy to be retired as it would be quite the challenge taking on a Liverpool side that have been "phenomenal" over the past two seasons.