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29th Mar 2023

Sir Alex Ferguson reveals his one regret as Manchester United manager

“We were a bit unlucky, we ran out of time”

Callum Boyle

Sir Alex Ferguson spent over 26 years as Manchester United manager, so to have only one regret isn’t bad going.

It’s not signing Bebe, appointing David Moyes as his successor or falling out with David Beckham or Roy Keane, or even losing Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.

No, Ferguson’s sole regret is failing to advance past Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League semi-final, and reach a glamour final against Real Madrid at Hampden Park in his native Glasgow.

Ferguson had announced the previous summer that he intended to retire following the 2001/02 season, but went back on the decision in February 2002.

However, the pain of missing out on playing Madrid in his hometown was still great for Ferguson.

Manchester United team group

“The one I really regret was not taking Manchester United to the final in 2002,” Ferguson said on Tuesday afternoon as Glasgow’s logo for Euro 2020 was unveiled, before joking that the referee in the second-leg wasn’t aware of “Fergie time.”

“The whole build up was about getting to the final in Glasgow, but we lost the semi-final to Leverkusen. We were a bit unlucky, we ran out of time. The referee couldn’t understand my time and his time!”

Despair for Roy Keane and Denis Irwin of Mancheser United

Leverkusen advanced on away goals, after a 2-2 in the first-leg and 1-1 draw in the second-leg in Germany. The side containing Michael Ballack and Ze Roberto would go on to lose 2-1 in the final to Madrid, thanks to a stunning volley from Zinedine Zidane.

Ferguson reckons he may have jinxed his team, and instantly wished he had not went to check out hotels in Glasgow before United had overcome their German opponents.

Bayer Leverkusen celebrate

“In the build up to the final at Hampden, I was told to go up to Glasgow and check out hotels,” the 74-year-old said.

“So I went up and checked out hotels that would have been ideal for us. I was driving back from Glasgow and I said: ‘I don’t like it, why have I done this?’ And then we lost the semi-final, but that’s life.”

The Premier League announced on Wednesday that legendary managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger have been inducted into its official Hall of Fame With 16 titles between them, they are the first individuals inducted as part of the ‘Class of 2023.

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