Sir Alex Ferguson stresses importance of communication to young managers

Manchester United great Sir Alex Ferguson says the ability to communicate effectively with the entire dressing room is one of the biggest lessons he learned in management.

The 79-year-old retired as Premier League champion in 2013, bringing down the curtain on an incredible stint with the Red Devils that included 13 league titles and two Champions League crowns.

Ferguson, who was at Old Trafford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost 5-0 to Liverpool on Sunday, has been sharing some of his knowledge as part of UEFA’s recent Pro Licence student exchange programme.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Alex Ferguson was at Old Trafford to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United side beaten 5-0 by Liverpool (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I really have a great affection for people who are learning the game and want to be coaches and managers,” the former United boss told the UEFA website.

“I started (managing) at 32 years of age and, of course, in the time from there on you do learn.

“But I honestly would say that going into management at 32, there were a couple of things that I knew that were useful: one, I could make a decision; two, I played the game; and three, I had my coaching (qualifications). Now, these things are really important.

“Other things I developed by the learning process if you give it time, particularly communication. I think when you’re in charge of a football team, you’re not just in charge of 11 players on the pitch.”

John O'Shea and Alex Ferguson
John O’Shea was among the coaching trainees being addressed by Ferguson (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ferguson was speaking to a current group of Pro Licence students studying with the national associations of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and the Republic of Ireland, including former United defender John O’Shea.

“I think that it’s really important that coaches go through all the courses they can,” Ferguson added. “Even the refresher courses and keep attending them, because there’s always something, little bits, you learn all the way down.

“UEFA has to lead the way in terms of the directions of coaches and the avenues they can afford and offer them to improve themselves as coaches.

“And I think it’ll always be UEFA that is the most important organisation in terms of creating the right platforms for young people to do well.”