Neville recalls Sir Alex' genius tactics and mental preparedness to beat the bests

Sir Alex Ferguson changed the map of England forever. 

From one of the good teams in England of the past, he made Manchester United the biggest club in the world.

He cracked one trophy after another and had to beat the best to become the new king. How did he do so?

Gary Neville answers that and more!

“Sir Alex always felt that players like Thierry Henry and Robert Pires had an air about them that they couldn’t be tackled,” Neville told Sky Sports The Football Show.

“He said he didn’t see players getting around them or tackling them. He said the opposition were too busy planning how to swap shirts with them. That would psychologically get into our heads.

“He’d say things like ‘I don’t want Vieira refereeing this game today, or Adams, or Keown’ – he’d say little things like that without ever encouraging us to intimidate the referee. People thought that happened but it didn’t.

“But those little things were the difference in matches. Sir Alex always said ‘find a way to win’ – there was an element of madness to us in the final 10 minutes of matches but that’s the risks he took to win matches.”

“Not just in title run-ins, Sir Alex would identify weaknesses in the opposition, work out what kind of records we’d have under certain referees, at certain grounds – he would really pinpoint the areas of weakness in the opposition,” he said.

“If there was one player you could get at. When we played against Arsenal during their ‘Invincible’ era, we played completely different than how we would ordinarily play. He adapted us to certain situations.

“There were certain points he’d identify mentality issues with certain people within the game that would contribute to the game. He was very much into the detail of the battle on matchdays – the mental battle.”

Perhaps Ferguson’s most memorable psychological victory came during a heated title battle with Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle in the 1995/96 season, as United came back from a 12-point deficit in mid-January to claim the title.

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