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23rd Jul 2018

Rio Ferdinand shares brilliant tale about dressing room argument with Alex Ferguson

Patrick McCarry

Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand reversed the hairdryer

Alex Ferguson insists whatever he said to players in the Manchester United dressing room was all business; never personal.

The legendary United manager was infamous for his half-time and full-time rants in the dressing room. Mark Hughes called it ‘The Hairdryer’ and just about every player that came through the club, when Ferguson was in charge, has a story to tell about it.

Lee Sharpe once recalled Ferguson’s reaction to United dropping points against Crystal Palace in 1995 – the same match that saw Eric Cantona red-carded and escorted down the sideline after kung-fu kicking an abusive fan.

“The manager comes in and he’s absolutely fuming. The door smashes off the back of its hinges. The jacket is off, he’s got the short sleeves rolled up; steam coming out of his ears and frothing at the mouth. There’s benches in the middle of the room with shirts and balls to be signed. Cups of tea and plates of sandwiches. They’re sent f**king flying everywhere.

“We’re getting scalded and getting egg sandwiches down the back of our necks. We look at each other, thinking, ‘F**king hell, Cantona is getting it here!’

“And the he starts, the manager. ‘F**king Pallister, you can’t head anything, you can’t tackle. Incey, where the f**k have you been? Sharpey, my grandmother runs f**king faster than you! … You’re all a f**king disgrace. 9 o’clock, tomorrow morning, I’m going to run your f**king balls off in training. F**king shocking. And Eric…. [in a softer tone] you can’t go round doing things like that son’.”

There was also the time, in 2003, when Ferguson allegedly kicked a boot in anger that struck David Beckham in the head.

Rio Ferdinand was at the club only a year at that stage and admits he kept his head down for his first couple of seasons at Old Trafford. Once he settled in, however, Ferdinand grew in stature and importance at the club.

Still, to this day, he regrets having a pop back at Ferguson after a Champions League defeat against Benfica. Ferdinand told the BBC:

“We played Benfica away in Europe and got beat. We didn’t play well, and he was shouting at me.

“I thought that I was one of our best players on the day. And I was thinking, ‘What are you shouting at me for?’ So I started going back at him and shouting back.

“The problem, which I learned quickly, is that the more you shout at him, the more he shouts back and the louder he gets, the more aggressive he gets, and the closer he gets to you!”

Ferdinand was brave but he rapidly found out who was the boss.

Ryan Giggs, who played 22 years under Ferguson, was never one to bark back but he jokes that he made an equally poor error in judgement.

During his early years at the club, Giggs got a roasting from the Scot at half-time and thought, ‘Right, I’ll show him’. He went out after the break and played well, with United finishing up as winners.

“He quickly knew how I’d respond to him losing his temper,” he said. “So that followed me for the next 20 years!”