Countless players have received Sir Alex Ferguson‘s infamous “hairdryer treatment” over the last 25 years. In a fit of rage, he would get so close to a player’s face and scream so loud that the recipient’s head would recoil as if a hairdryer was being blown in his face.
Tottenham‘s Louis Saha described one such incident in his new book, “Du quartier aux etoiles” (“From the inner city to the stars“). It took place in Feb. 2004, just weeks after he joined United from Fulham.
Even though he had already scored two first-half goals and United was leading Everton 3-0, Ferguson tore into the French striker for wasting another scoring chance, according to Sky Sports.
“When I headed towards the changing room, I was feeling proud,” Saha said. “As soon as I sat down, I was woken up in a violent way — Sir Alex Ferguson rendered me deaf.”
“He was going mad and I quickly understood why — he was unhappy because we came in with only a three-goal lead when we should have wrapped the game up. He was furious about my missed chances and reminded me that this is the very top level.”
Saha only spent four-and-a-half years (2004-08) at United, and was often injured. His tale is common among players who have worked with the veteran manager over the years. But it has increasingly become a rarity, as Ferguson, 70, admitted to FIFA.com that he has mellowed in his old age.
“I don’t have any confrontations really, not nowadays, although maybe when I was younger I would have,” he said. “If a player answered me back I would head straight for them, this is where the hairdryer treatment comes in. I didn’t allow a player to beat me in an argument. Now I am older and more experienced and because of that and my time at the club the players have more respect.”
Ferguson’s kinder, gentler style has helped him adapt to a new generation of players. Younger (and wealthier) stars may not respond to the hairdryer in the same way their counterparts from a prior era might have.
Nevertheless, the Scottish tactician says that loosing one’s cool is all part of the job. It just may be one of the secrets to his longevity.
“There is nothing wrong with losing your temper if it is for the right reasons — sometimes you are better getting it out of your system,” he said. “My normal pattern of management is to get it out of your system. I tell players after the game and that’s it finished – the next day to me is a new world.”