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Sir Alex Ferguson Addresses Harvard Business School in Boston on Success

December 19th, 2012 at 9:00 AM
By Glenn Hamilton

Sir Alex Ferguson spoke to students of the Harvard business school in Boston about what has made his managerial career such a success. The Manchester United manager spoke about his anger of losing the title to Manchester City last season, his dressing room manner, and his keys to success.

'Manchester - Old Trafford - Manchester United vs Crawley Town' photo (c) 2011, Andrea Sartorati - license:

Ferguson spoke candidly to the Harvard business school and told the students that he still feels angry about the way that United gave up their 20th Premier League title to City on the last day of the campaign. The scars are yet to heal and Ferguson stated that his message to his players this season is that City must not be allowed to beat them to the title two years in a row. 

Ferguson also criticized clubs who fire their managers at an alarming rate. Ferguson famously was given the time at Old Trafford to cement his influence even though results in the beginning of his tenure could have easily seen him unemployed in today's game. Ferguson has highlighted the point that changing managers often leads players to have too much power in the dressing room which makes the success of the next manager an impossible task. Ferguson has always taken pride at United, for developing players and teams to be successful in the long run instead of achieving immediate success. He believes clubs have to invest in long term players and be able to man manage these players to shape them into stars of the future. Ferguson feels there is nothing better than developing a young player into a regular first team starter. Letting players go who have been decent people has been hard for the Scot but all of the evidence and justification he needs is on the football pitch. 

Ferguson provided information to a Harvard paper about his success as a manger. Ferguson admits that his time as the Red Devil's manger has taught him a few lessons and felt that the students had a good grasp of his approach to management.

"The part of the discussion from which I learned the most about myself was when they were discussing the balance between 'fear' and 'love' in my approach to managing people," Ferguson said. "If you look at my history, there's all this hype about hair dryers and anger and so on, but the students acknowledged another side to it, which is more apt in terms of how I have fostered relations with people and developed the team over the years. The reality is not always how the press portray it. I felt the students were quite accurate in terms of how they analyzed this aspect, questioning and recognizing this important dynamic of management."

Ferguson has stated before that, in the modern game with the modern player, a different style of management has been needed. Players must be fostered and, at least on the training ground, told they are doing a job well done. Ferguson believes there is no reason to tear a player down in training and believes the words well done were the greatest invented in sport. None could ever argue that Ferguson's approach to management and his ability to change with the times has given him the distinction of being one of the greatest sports managers of all time.

*Special Note: Widespread reports have confirmed that Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has had to step down due to a relapse of an illness. Everyone in world football feels saddened about this news and wish Vilanova a full and speedy recovery. 

Tags: Boston, Harvard Business School, League, Manchester, Manchester City, Manchester United, Premier, Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson, Soccer, Tito Vilanova

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