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Sir Alex Ferguson reveals secrets to his success

Published 22/09/2015

Sir Alex Ferguson, left, turned many players into stars, including David Beckham, right
Sir Alex Ferguson, left, turned many players into stars, including David Beckham, right

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed the secrets behind his success in his latest book, 'Leading', which hit the shelves on Tuesday.

In the 406-page publication, Ferguson covers every aspect of his 39-year career in management from his humble beginnings in Scotland to his success on the biggest of stages with Manchester United.

Press Association Sport has picked out five key tips from the Scot's book which could help any manager.

LISTEN TO YOUR PLAYERS:

"Listening costs you nothing," Ferguson writes. He believes lending players your ear is vital if you are going to be a successful manager. If you are going to develop players into stars, you must know what makes them tick - what gets them excited, what their passions are, and what "spooks" them. Ferguson felt it was vital he listened to not just his players, but also his staff and those outside the club. He reveals he consulted Michel Platini before agreeing to sign Eric Cantona and decided against signing Mario Balotelli in 2010 after listening to the reservations of his Italian contacts.

OBSERVE AND KEEP YOUR DISTANCE

In the book, Ferguson talks about how Archie Knox complained his boss was too hands on when at Aberdeen. Knox, then assistant manager, argued he should take training, leaving Ferguson to observe from the sidelines. "It was the most important decision I made about the way I managed and led," Ferguson writes. From the sidelines he could observe and make a judgement on players' strengths and weaknesses. Being a hands-off presence also gave Ferguson a chance to keep his distance and enforce his role as an authority figure.

INSTIL DISCIPLINE

It will come as no surprise, particularly to those who have been on the receiving end of Ferguson's hairdryer treatment, that the Scot regards discipline "above all else". Anyone who steps out of line needs to be punished, in his eyes. Ferguson said the dressing room's attitude to discipline was a "royal mess" when he took over at United in 1986. He ordered the players to wear their club blazers to matches, rather than tracksuits, and he detested it when players were late for training. Mark Bosnich was fined for his tardiness, Ferguson reveals in the book. The Glaswegian would tell players to change their hair or get rid of jewellery if he felt it was not appropriate. One of the more amusing tales from Ferguson's book details the time he told Karel Poborsky to cut his long curly hair after arriving at Old Trafford from Slavia Prague in 1996. "He looked as though as he was going to play for Led Zeppelin rather than United," Ferguson said.

PREPARE AND PLAN METICULOUSLY

Ferguson made sure every detail of the squad's preparation - from training to travel and meal times - was perfect. He argues that constant training drills were beneficial to the players because it meant they were less likely to act irrationally on the pitch when the heat was on. He would also ensure he was prepared for what lay ahead. "Prioritising a long-term strategy for the club was crucial," he adds. That meant having the best scouting system in the league.

BE PREPARED TO PUT IN THE HARD YARDS

Ferguson's father used to work 60-hour weeks in the Glasgow shipyards and his mother worked in factories, so it was no surprise that the former United boss had a strong work ethic. "All the top managers have a formidable work ethic," said the 73-year-old, who often used to arrive at Carrington before the milkman. That rubbed off on to his players, too. David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney - among others - would stay behind after training to practice their free-kicks and that did not go unnoticed by their manager.

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