Ferguson on Gerrard, Ronaldo's resilience… and United v Bayern in 99

Sir Alex Ferguson hails ‘magnificent’ Rangers manager Steven Gerrard, praises Cristiano Ronaldo’s mental resilience… and reveals what he was going to tell his Manchester United team if they lost the 1999 Champions League final to Bayern Munich

  • Sir Alex Ferguson heralded Cristiano Ronaldo’s resilience and determination 
  • He also praised old rival Steven Gerrard’s work winning the title with Rangers
  • Ferguson admitted he was ready to face defeat in 1999 Champions League final 

Sir Alex Ferguson has opened up on a swathe of intriguing stories across his career in management and the wider footballing world during a rare interview.

Speaking to The Guardian, the iconic Manchester United boss reflected on his life in the sport ahead of a new documentary coming out about him that has been directed by his son, Jason.

Ferguson singled out an old adversary of his for praise in the Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard. 

Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken out about his career and his thoughts on football today

The iconic Manchester United boss praised Steven Gerrard’s work as Rangers manager 

Gerrard has won the Scottish Premiership at Rangers, a club Ferguson used to play for 

Gerrard is now the manager of Rangers, a club Ferguson was at in his playing career and the Scot has been impressed with how Gerrard has adapted to management and steered his old club back to the title.

He paid a particular tribute to how Gerrard handles the media, something Ferguson was notoriously astute with during his managerial career. 

‘He’s done magnificent. He really has, both on and off the field,’ Ferguson said. ‘A press interview can lose you your job in management. But Steven’s press conferences are fantastic. 

‘He’s cool, he’s composed, he gives the right answers. He’s really top because it’s an art.’

Ferguson also spoke of how he valued a player with a high level of mental resilience and he referred to the now Juventus attacker Cristiano Ronaldo as one of his primary example. 

Ferguson lauded Cristiano Ronaldo’s resilience and spoke of how he valued that trait in players

Ferguson, who brought Ronaldo to United in 2003, said that he always thought the Portugal star was destined for the top of the game because of his mental toughness

‘That was at the forefront of all my methods of management – to make sure players could cope with the strains and challenges of being a top footballer,’ Ferguson said. 

‘At United, all the best players were mentally tough. Ronaldo is tough, honestly, as old boots. He was always going to be a great player because he had it up there (Ferguson taps his head).    

Ferguson also reflected on perhaps his most dramatic triumph as a United manager – the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp.

With 90 minutes on the clock, United were 1-0 down but Teddy Sheringham managed to snatch a late equaliser in the first minute of stoppage time before the now United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, poked in from close range two minutes later to seal a storming victory that also clinched United’s treble.

Ferguson also reflected on United’s stunning Champions League win in the 1999 treble season

Ferguson said he was preparing to commiserate his players in the 90th minute of the game

As the clock hit 90, did Ferguson really think his team could win it?

‘No chance! I was thinking what I’d say to the players: ‘You had a great season.’ But then we won it,’ he said.                

Ferguson’s beloved United are back in Premier League action on Tuesday night, hosting Leicester at Old Trafford. They then take on fierce rivals Liverpool on Thursday in a rearranged fixture.

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