“FERGIE WOULD DELIBERATELY INTIMIDATE JOURNALISTS”
As Manchester United correspondent for the
Manchester Evening News since 1995, Stuart Mathieson can provide more of an insight than most into Alex Ferguson’s press room prowess
Can you remember your first ever press conference with Ferguson? It was at the Cliff – United’s former training ground – and it was very nerve-wracking. It was an intimidating environment, because Fergie was so unpredictable. You never knew how he was going to respond to a certain question. His mood could completely change in an instant.
Do you think he would deliberately try to intimidate journalists? Definitely. If you phrased a question wrong in a press conference he would belittle you, which would dent your confidence. He could deter journalists from asking certain questions by responding in a particular way. But there were times when you were convinced you were about to get the hairdryer and then he’d be normal. He kept you on your toes.
Can you remember the worst bollocking you received from him? I asked a very simple question: ‘Are you happy with Danny Welbeck’s start to the season?’ The expression changed on his face and he tore strips off me – even the other journalists in the room were stunned. The following week Welbeck scored at Real Madrid. I asked the same question and he gave me the answer I had wanted first time around!
Did you have ways of defusing his rage? I think persistence was the best method. If you were afraid to ask him questions he would smell weakness. I’d always continue to ask him the questions that I needed for my story and I think he actually respected me and the other journalists for doing that.
How did he compare to David Moyes and Louis van Gaal? David wasn’t quite as confident. He wasn’t as comfortable fielding questions when he knew it was on live television. That was probably because he didn’t have the same success behind him that Fergie had. Louis had a reputation for being fiery but he was engaging – you could have a laugh with him.