Sir Alex Ferguson developed a reputation for being a bit of an angry manager and Gary Neville has revealed the fiery Scot was not happy when Ruud van Nistelrooy swapped shirts in the Manchester derby in 2002.
Fergie was completely against shirt-swapping on the whole and saw when his star striker came into the dressing room with a sky blue shirt after a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in the final day at Maine Road, he made sure he got his point across.
“He said, ‘You do not give away one of those shirts. They’re my shirts. They’re this club’s shirts, they’re not your shirts. You’re just wearing them temporarily. That’s not your possession to give away.’
“He stopped us swapping shirts in domestic games. “I think he said after that game, ‘I should let the fans in here. I should let the fans come in here and speak to you.'”
Bloody hell. You can just imagine Sir Alex with steam coming out of his ears and van Nistelrooy getting the message loud and clear.
Prior to the game, Neville memorably snubbed Peter Schmeichel in the tunnel. While Schmeichel readily approached his former United teammate in the tunnel, Neville was not having any of it and outright snubbed a handshake before the match.
The 43-year old explained his reasoning in the same interview and says it was a mentality Fergie instilled in the players.
“When you look back now and you’re 43, like I am, there’s two things about that,” Neville said. “One, he left Man United at the age of whatever he was, 35, and he said he was retiring, basically to go abroad.
“At the time, when he came back, he played for Manchester City.
“You can’t play for Manchester City. I’m a United fan and I can’t play for Manchester City, I can’t play for Leeds [United] and I can’t play for Liverpool.
“That’s just written in stone. You just don’t play for those clubs, irrespective of what happens.
“The other thing was at that time I hated everybody, we all did. Everybody hated us, we all hated everybody. That’s the way it was.
“With Sir Alex, you’re on an island and we were siege mentality. If you’re not on the island, do one.”