The Premier League is packed with wonderful managers and huge personalities, but few can compare with Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Manchester United legend – who turns 80 on New Year’s Day – spent almost 27 years as manager at Old Trafford where he established himself as arguably the best manager in the history of the English top flight.
In his time in England Ferguson won 38 trophies which included 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cup and two Champions League wins.
His legacy is undoubtedly down to the way his teams performed on the pitch, but also his way with words when dealing with the press.
Here – to mark his birthday – we take a look at Fergie’s most memorable quotes with some absolute belters in the mix.
His greatest achievement
“My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their f***ing perch. And you can print that.”
David Beckham and the flying boot
“It was a freakish incident. If I tried it 100 or a million times it couldn’t happen again. If I could I would have carried on playing!”
On ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City
“There has been a lot of expectation on Manchester City and with the spending they have done, they have to win something. Sometimes you have a noisy neighbour and have to live with it. You can’t do anything about them.”
Wayne Rooney’s new contract
“Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in the field.”
“He was certainly full of it, calling me ‘Boss’ and ‘Big Man’ when we had our post-match drink after the first leg. But it would help if his greetings were accompanied by a decent glass of wine. What he gave me was paint-stripper.”
“They say he’s an intelligent man, right? Speaks five languages. I’ve got a 15-year-old boy from the Ivory Coast who speaks five languages!”
Dispute with Newcastle boss Alan Pardew
“The press have had a field day. The only person they have not spoken to is Barack Obama because he is busy.”
On selling players
“Norman Whiteside went to Everton and I says, ‘look, they’ve asked me what you’re on and I’ve told them double that’. I did that with them all. Well, you’ve got to help them. They’re my players, believe me, I want to feel they’ve been rewarded and respected, you know? I mean, they [the buying club] don’t need to pay it, but they did.”
Signing Eric Cantona
“I’d agreed to have a lunch with Bob Cass from the Mail on Sunday at the Portland Hotel.
“I said ‘I need to go, I’m sorry, but I may be back.’
“I went away, signed him, came back. We were playing on Saturday. He said: ‘Where were you?’. ‘Just away to sign Cantona.’ ‘Don’t be daft.’ I said: ‘Honestly.’
“You better have, I wouldn’t have let you leave here.”
On mind games from Italian clubs
“When an Italian tells me it’s pasta on the plate, I check under the sauce to make sure. They are the inventors of the smokescreen.”
First impressions of Ryan Giggs
“I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.”
Real Madrid’s interest in Cristiano Ronaldo
“Do you think I would get into a contract with that mob? Jesus Christ, no chance. I wouldn’t sell them a virus.”
Beating Bayern Munich in Champions League final
“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football, bloody hell.”
On whether he misses management
“No. I took Cathy to the European final the next year when Real [Madrid] played Atletico in Lisbon and that was the first time I said to myself, ‘god I miss this, I miss this’.
“I went down to see Ronaldo after the game. Carlo Ancelotti was the manager – he’s a fantastic guy – and he saw me in the corridor of the suite, and he said, ‘Cristiano’s gone for a medical, to get tested’, and he said, ‘come in, come in’ and all the players were shaking my hand.
“It was a really nice moment, you know. That’s probably the only time where I said to myself, ‘I miss this’, you know, a big game like that.”