Sir Alex Ferguson sat down with CNN’s Alex Thomas to answer questions submitted by CNN viewers as the Manchester United manager looks to win the Premier League trophy back off Chelsea this season.
Alex Thomas: Very early stages of the season. Mwate Kowa, a lady from Nigeria asks, ‘which team do you dread most in the Premier League and in the world’
Sir Alex Ferguson: Well the Barclays Premier League is such a difficult league, it’s almost tribalism, you can’t dismiss that impact when it comes to winning the Premier League. I always look at the team that wins the league the year before, you have to be the target to try to work on, it’s up the rest including us to do that and Chelsea are the champions, there’s no question about that. They’ve had a good start to the season and I look upon them as the main danger to us. The games that will matter will probably be the ones against each other, that will matter and last year we lost both of those games and therefore that decided the title I think.
AT: When it comes to later in the season and you’re competing in the latter stage of the Champions League, is it the games against the Barcelona’s and the Real Madrid’s that really get you and players excited?
Fergie: Well the Champions League is the most fantastic competition now. Since they changed it to the group stages to make it leagues, all the previous winners are in the pot, and of course, you expect great improvement from Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho, I expect that to be the case, Barcelona are still the most attractive team and they will be one of the main dangers, Inter Milan the most difficult to beat, so they’ve all got their different qualities, but it’s such an exciting tournament, you can’t help but look forward to it.
AT: An Arsenal fan who’s a student in Switzerland, Gold Emelium?, I hope I’ve got his name right, says ‘in all your 24 years in coaching at Manchester United, who would you regard as the best player you have managed?’
Fergie: Bryan Robson was an incredible presence in the dressing room and was loved by the players – tactically he was very astute. Roy Keane was a driving force in the dressing room, but they want the best footballers. // Paul Scholes is an unbelievable player, he will always go down as one of the best players of all-time here // you’ve had Cantona, you’ve had Giggs and Ronaldo, Rooney… Scholes as I said earlier on, these were fantastic footballers but to try and say who was the best of them all, it’s very difficult.
AT: When it comes to the make up of the current United squad, we have a question from someone in Nigeria, Solo Dilasottie?, who says ‘can you tell us more about one of your new signings this year, Bebe?’
Fergie: Yeah, well, we have a scout in Portugal where we asked him about this young player playing in second division in Portugal. There was a complication apparently in his contract which allowed him to leave to go to Guamaris and he’d only played three of four games and our scouts insisted that we should sign him. It was a bit of a leap into the dark really because we hadn’t seen him play, we sent down one of our scouts down with Antonio from Portugal to see him play in the last game before we signed him and then he comes up and says there’s something exceptional here, we’ll maybe seeing something really special, and so we took the gamble – we took the gamble, at that time, I think Real Madrid and Benfica were starting to move in, it was one of those instinctive things, you have a smell about something and you take it. So he’s joined us but physically, he wasn’t ready, hasn’t done a proper pre-season, so the last few weeks since he’s joined, we’ve been working on him physically. He’s now played one reserve game and he’ll be involved in the team tomorrow at Scunthorpe and you’ll see the progress now.
AT: Finally, one tongue-in-cheek question from a Liverpool fan in Thailand… Suti Srisakulchawla.. I hope I got that right
Fergie: He deserves that name!
“When will you officially set your retirement date Sir Alex?” he asks
Fergie: Well there’s no date simply because I think that, I’ve said this time and time again, people my age I think retirement is for young people, because they can do something else. When you get to my age then if your health is good, you like to work, simple as that.