Sir Alex Ferguson’s five most frightening hairdryer treatments: ‘Tears in my eyes’

Sir Alex Ferguson’s career honours as a player and manager

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The former Manchester United manager, who today celebrates his 80th birthday, has a trophy cabinet which includes two Champions Leagues, 13 Premier Leagues, five FA Cups and two Scottish titles. He is widely recognised as one of the greatest managers in football history. However, in his 27 years as United boss Sir Alex was also known for his fierce outbursts at stars including Wayne Rooney and Paul Ince. 

David Beckham received one of Sir Alex’s most famous hairdryer treatments following United’s 2003 defeat to Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

After United lost 2-0 to Arsene Wenger’s side, the manager kicked a boot at Beckham and questioned the midfielder’s commitment amid links to Real Madrid. 

Ferguson wrote in his autobiography: “He was about 12 feet from me. Between us lay a row of boots . David swore. I moved towards him and as I approached I kicked a boot. 

“It hit him right above the eye. Of course he rose to have a go at me and the players stopped him.

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“‘Sit down’, I said. ‘You’ve let your team down. You can argue as much as you like.’

“The next day the story was in the press. In public an Alice band highlighted the damage inflicted by the boot. It was in those days that I told the board David had to go.”

In 2006, French striker Louis Saha was also on the end of a Ferguson outburst after Man Utd lost to Celtic in the Champions League group stages. 

The game saw Saha fluff a last-minute penalty, having also missed a glorious chance to equalise earlier in the game. 

Rooney, who was also lambasted by the manager after the game, wrote in his autobiography: “It’s the worst hairdryer I’ve ever seen. He’s in Louis’ face, shouting and screaming. But Louis isn’t the only one getting an earful.

“The manager knows I’ve been negotiating a new deal with the club and he saves some for me. 

“‘Players wanting more money from the club and new deals… you don’t deserve anything after that performance!’”

Strangely, the night Eric Cantona infamously launched himself into the stands and kung-fu kicked a fan at Selhurst Park Sir Alex berated the team rather than the mercurial forward. 

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According to former United winger Lee Sharpe, the manager was furious as the club drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace.

As reported by the Daily Star, Sharpe said: “The manager comes in and is absolutely fuming. The door smashes off the back of its hinges. The jacket is off, he’s got the shirt sleeves rolled up; steam coming out of his ears and frothing at the mouth. 

“There’s benches in the middle of the room with shirts and balls to be signed. Cups of tea and plates of sandwiches. They’re sent f***ing flying everywhere.

“We’re getting scalded and getting egg sandwiches down the back of our necks. We look at each other thinking, ‘F***ing hell, Cantona is getting it here.’

“And then he starts, the manager. ‘F***ing Pallister, you can’t head anything, you can’t tackle. Incey, where the f*** have you been?

“Sharpey, my grandmother runs f***ing faster than you! You’re all a f***ing disgrace. Nine o’clcock tomorrow morning, I’m going to run you’re fucking balls off in training.’”

Then in a softer tone, Ferguson turned to Cantona and said: “You can’t go round doing things like that son.”

Former United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak was brought to tears from a scathing Ferguson rant after Man Utd’s shock 4-0 defeat to West Ham in November 2010. 

The Hammers were bottom of the league at the time, and Sir Alex did not hold back in the dressing room after the game. 

As reported by the Mail Online, the keeper recalled: “He walked into the dressing room and just started shouting at me. Every swear word you could think of, he was throwing at me. 

“I was sitting there, calmly, thinking, ‘I did nothing wrong in this game’. There weren’t any goals I was particularly at fault for, so I couldn’t blame myself. 

“He kept shouting at me and I started to get angry so I decided to respond. I thought I’d give it back to him the same way he gave it to me. 

“I stood up and started to shout at him, and then I see Ryan Giggs standing right behind the boss, and I look into his eyes, he’s shaking his head at me.

“I could see he was thinking ‘don’t do it ‒ sit down!’ I sat down, everyone in the dressing room was nervous. I was nervous, there were tears in my eyes.”

Former United and England midfielder Ince infamously exchanged heated words with Sir Alex despite a comfortable 3-1 win against Norwich in 1993.

Ince recalled the incident to talkSPORT, saying: “We got to the 92nd minute and I’ve got the ball in the middle of the park, I looked up and didn’t see anything, so I went on a mazy run, beat one, a little step over and beat two but the lost the next one. 

“They went back down the pitch and nearly scored. Ferguson comes in and goes absolutely ballistic at me saying ‘Who do you think you are? You ain’t no Maradona or Pele.’

“I said, ‘Gaffer, what are you on about?’ He said, ‘You’ve lost the ball in the 92nd minute and they could have scored.’ 

“He starts coming up to me in my face and I’m thinking, ‘I’m not having this’.

“So I stand up, we are face to face and he is shouting and as he is shouting I’ve got spit in my eye. Brian Kidd stepped in between the two of us and we didn’t speak for five days.”

‘Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography’ was written by Sir Alex Ferguson and published by Hodder and Stroughton in 2013. You can find it here.

Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far was written by Wayne Rooney and Hunter Davies and published by HarperSport in 2006. You can find it here.

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