Words of Wisdom From Sir Alex Ferguson

Words of Wisdom From Sir Alex Ferguson

On Listening

‘Most people don’t use their eyes and ears effectively. They aren’t very observant and they fail to listen intently. As a result, they miss half of what is going on around them. I can think of some managers who could talk under water. I don’t think it helps them. There’s a reason that God gave us two ears, two eyes and one mouth. It’s so you can listen and watch twice as much as you talk. Best of all, listening costs you nothing.’

On Watching

‘Watching is the other underrated activity, and again, it costs nothing. For me there are two forms of observation: the first is on the detail and the second is on the big picture. Until I was managing Aberdeen and hired Archie Knox as my assistant manager, I had not appreciated the difference between watching for the tiny particulars while also trying to understand the broader landscape.’

On Organisation

‘I always felt that it’s impossible to field a great football team if you don’t have a great organisation. Before you field a great team, you have to build a great organisation, and all the bits and pieces have to be assembled properly.’

On Preparation

‘There were plenty of times when Lady Luck blew in our direction – it happens all the time in football. Yet preparation had a lot more to do with our success than a few fortunate breaks. Part of the pursuit of excellence involves eliminating as many surprises as possible because life is full of the unexpected.’

On Setting Standards

‘Winning anything requires a series of steps. You cannot win the League with one giant leap. So I would be careful to divide everything up into digestible chunks. At the start of the season I would avoid communicating any particular objective. I would only start to do that in November as the shape of the season and the form of our rivalries became clear.’

On Inspiring

‘You don’t get the best out of people by hitting them with a rod. You do so by gaining their respect, getting them accustomed to triumphs and convincing them that they are capable of improving their performance. It turns out the two most powerful words in the English language are, ‘Well done.’’

On Complacency

‘Complacency is a disease, especially for individuals and organisations that have enjoyed success. It’s like dry rot or termites because, once damp gets into the brickwork or insects into the wood, you don’t notice the damage until it is too late. Whenever we played a game I never thought it was in the bag.’