What the team think: Three former United players give an insight into Ferguson the man manager

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The Independent Online
John Sivebaek

STILL playing for Aarhus in his native Denmark, aged 35. Player who scored first goal for United after Alex Ferguson's arrival at Old Trafford, in 1-0 home win against QPR on 22 November 1986.

"Of course I can remember the goal. It was the only one I scored for United. It was a free-kick at the Stretford End. It was my ambition when I arrived to score into that goal. I left to join St Etienne at the end of that season but I wasn't pushed out by Alex. He treated me very well. He said he wanted to keep me but he couldn't guarantee me a first-team place. It was my decision to leave. I have spoken to him since then and I have a lot of respect for what he has done at Old Trafford. The players had a lot of respect for him when he came. He had been at Aberdeen for nine years and did well there. He was a quiet man most of the time but sometimes he could go crazy. I'll never forget the time he started throwing tea cups around in the dressing-room. That surprised me but afterwards he was quiet and everything was forgotten. It was only because he was so passionate about United that he lost his temper. We understood that."

Steve Bruce

FERGUSON calls Bruce his "most priceless" signing. He was the new manager's third acquisition, following Viv Anderson and Brian McClair when he arrived at Old Trafford in an pounds 850,000 move from Norwich in December 1987.

"I must have been fifth or sixth in the pecking order but Alex wanted a centre-half and I made it known I wanted to go to United. You know what his demands are when he signs you. You have to succeed. He expects that of himself and of everyone else. I'll bet he was on the training ground with the kids at 7.30 the morning after the Fenerbahce game. He tests you to the limit to see if you are mentally tough. As soon as you gain his respect he is fine but you've got to earn it first. But one thing he will never do is criticise you in public. He will defend you to the hilt. What is said in the dressing-room remains there. That wins respect from players. Whether it's football, tiddlywinks or table-tennis, he wants to win everything he does. It rubs off on you. But he's very considerate too. If you ask any manager who has been sacked I'll bet you they'll say the first man on the phone to them was Alex Ferguson."

Peter Davenport

SCORED 16 goals in the season Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford but failed to secure a regular place and was sold to Middlesbrough in 1988.

"I think Alex has grown into the job. On his first day he was nervous, very nervous. He's an emotional man and it meant a lot to him to be manager of United. He made that clear to us, and the fact that he wanted people with passion and desire. He preferred players he was sure of and it didn't take him long to start sorting people out. I never fell out with him. Of course I wanted to play more games for United but I got on well with Alex. Even now he sends me a Christmas card. I was doing some filming for a television programme at Old Trafford earlier this year and he insisted I popped into his office for a chat. I was in there for half an hour. He is a very thoughtful man. I remember on the morning of the 1992 FA Cup final, when I played for Sunderland against Liverpool, the phone rang in my hotel room. It was Alex. He wanted to wish me all the best. That's typical of him. He was spot on with his assessment of the game too, unfortunately. Liverpool beat us."

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