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Sir Alex Ferguson's 10 Most Famous Spats with Players

Simon EdmondsCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2017

Sir Alex Ferguson's 10 Most Famous Spats with Players

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    Sir Alex Ferguson has forged a reputation as one of the most cutthroat managers in the history of world football.

    Over the years, a lot of players who crossed Fergie's path felt the wrath of the great Scot in full force—often resulting in them promptly be sold to another club.

    Of course, Sir Alex isn't a monster, and sometimes those differences between players are in fact patched up and "forgotten about."

    However, in every single case where that applies, a similar motif appears. It is always the player who ends up apologising.

    Cross Fergie at your peril.

    Recently Dimitar Berbatov fell out of favour with the big man and, surprise surprise, saw himself leave the club for Fulham.

    This wasn't all bad news for Berbatov—in fact, it was probably a good move for the Bulgarian—but unfortunately the same can't be said for everyone in this list.

    So which players' arguments with Sir Alex sent the biggest shock waves through football?

10. Paul McGrath

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    When Sir Alex arrived at the club in 1986, he didn't quite garner the same sort of respect that he does today.

    That's not to say he wasn't already an extremely successful manager, having already won a European Cup Winners' Cup with Aberdeen

    The Manchester United dressing room was famed for its wild parties and drinking, and the man at the top of the United hierarchy was Red Devil captain, Paul McGrath.

    McGrath, as Fergie saw it, represented everything that was wrong with the club (off the pitch).

    The two didn't exactly come to blows as publicly as perhaps some of the other men in this list, but remember this was a very different time.

    Nowadays it's easy to get all the latest gossip on any little thing that happens at a club.

    Back in '86 that wasn't the case, and so the fact that most fans were aware of Fergie's unhappiness with his skipper was pretty big news.

    Eventually, after the two couldn't sort out their differences, McGrath moved to Aston Villa

9. Peter Schmeichel

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    Here is the first example of a player that fell out with Fergie but was able to make amends by apologising quickly and rationally.

    Having said that, Schmeichel revealed in his autobiography that for a few minutes he was in fact "sacked" by Sir Alex.

    The year was 1994, and Manchester United had a tricky tie against bitter rivals Liverpool

    The match did not go well for Schmeichel and Co., with the great Dane letting three past him.

    After the match, a heated argument allegedly raged between goalkeeper and manager that saw Peter send a barrage of insults Fergie's way.

    The next day he was called into the bosses' office and told that he would have to be sacked for what he had said to his coach as it went against Fergie's authority.

    Luckily for Schmeichel (and all United fans), he emphatically apologised on the spot, earning back the respect of Sir Alex and allowing him to continue his career at the club.

8. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Many would argue that Ronaldo and Sir Alex didn't really "fall out" before the man from Portugal's move to Real Madrid.

    It is certainly true that the two men are now on good terms with each other and could happily coincide in the same set-up again right now if they had to.

    However, many people forget the tantrum that Ronaldo threw and the following mass media speculation after he was substituted in a game.

    Refusing to shake Fergie's hand and then smashing a water bottle with his boot, Ronnie did not look best pleased.

    To act out like this on such a public stage, where 80,000 fans—not to mention hundreds of cameras—could see you was a silly (or maybe clever) move on Ronaldo's part.

    It was the catalyst that prompted his move away from the club, and without a doubt for the next few weeks, things were extremely cagey between Cristiano and Ferguson.

    The two eventually managed to make up shortly before Ronaldo became a Galactico. 

7. Paul Ince

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    Paul Ince was always a man that had an extremely high opinion of himself.

    The self-proclaimed "Guv'nor" of the United dressing room clearly needed to be knocked down a peg by the real man in control.

    Unfortunately Ince's arrogance meant that he saw Fergie's attempts to gain control as a sign of him trying to undermine the midfielder's respect among the team.

    The two were never 100 percent comfortable with each other, and after a 4-0 demolition by Barcelona, the two reportedly had a tremendous argument from which they never really recovered.

    In 1995 Ince left the club for archrivals Liverpool—most likely only adding to Fergie's fury with the player even more.

    It is still rumoured that the two men refuse to acknowledge each other when they are in the same room.

    Talk about your long-term grudges!

6. Carlos Tevez

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    Tevez is really a player whose falling out with Sir Alex happened much more after he left the club than when he was there.

    When his contract ran out in 2009, United supporters were keen to see the Argentinian re-signed by Sir Alex.

    However, with Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov already at the club, Fergie saw no reason to keep the former West Ham player on board.

    The fans who weren't happy with Fergie soon rushed to his side after Tevez joined bitter rivals Manchester City.

    Since then, Tevez seems to have made it his one-man mission to criticise and put down everything that Manchester United stands for—including their legendary manager.

    The writing was on the wall as soon as an all-too-infamous poster saying "Welcome to Manchester" on a sky-blue background was posted up in the city on the day of his transfer.

    Tevez took the biscuit this summer during City's Premier League Winner's parade when he picked up a sign saying "Fergie RIP."

    Talk about a lack of class.

5. Jaap Stam

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    The transfer of Jaap Stam was probably one of Sir Alex Ferguson's biggest mistakes.

    The dispute between the two came when the Dutchman published in his autobiography that Sir Alex had tapped him up before his move from PSV Eindhoven in 1998.

    Apparently, to make matters even worse from a fan's perspective, Sir Alex hadn't even read the book but was just going by what he saw written in the papers of the time.

    With the two at arms and Lazio willing to pay the money United required to let the big man go, it wasn't long before Stam was out the door and on his way to play in Serie A.

    Fergie has since admitted that letting Stam go and then replacing him with a 36-year-old Laurent Blanc was the worst decision of his managerial career.

    It really did mark the start of a barren spell for United, which saw them going four years without winning a league title.

    The void that Stam left wasn't truly filled until 2006, when Nemanja Vidic joined the club—the same season that United ended their drought in the league. Coincidence? I think not.

4. Ruud Van Nistelrooy

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    Ruud van Nistelrooy will always go down in history as one of the greatest foreign exports that the Premier League has ever seen.

    Unfortunately for him, he picked a fight with the man that is "the greatest."

    The Ronaldo-van Nistelrooy war started after a training ground argument where Ruud told the young Ronaldo to "go and cry to your daddy."

    By "daddy," Ruud was referring to the then-assistant coach Carlos Queiroz. In itself it doesn't seem like that much of insult.

    However, given that Ronaldo's father had died shortly before this, and that since then Ronnie had started to look upon Carlos as somewhat of a father-figure in his life, the comments were underhanded and outright despicable from the usually gentle Ruud.

    It seems that Fergie saw it that way too, and after being dropped to the bench for United's 2006 Carling cup final against Wigan Athletic it seemed that van Nistelrooy would soon be out the door.

    He, like Ronnie after him, left for Real Madrid.

3. Roy Keane

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    Some people cite it as a surprise that these two men fell out after so many years of working brilliantly together.

    What always shocked me about this particular battle was that it didn't happen about 10 years earlier.

    Roy "Keano" Keane is probably the most angry man to have ever kicked a football.

    Famously walking out of the Republic of Ireland's FIFA 2002 World Cup squad after a falling out with manager Mick McCarthy, Keane made himself no friends.

    His ferocious nature on the pitch also earned him the reputation as somewhat of a thug, and one has to believe that if he hadn't been playing football, the man may well have ended up in jail.

    Still, he is a United hero and legend. So what was it that made Keano go off on Sir Alex after so long?

    Poor training facilities on their preseason tour.

    He is a baffling man. 

    This was followed up by criticism made about the team in a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough. A short while later Sir Alex allowed his captain to move to Celtic

    Really, it was a good bit of business for the club, with Keane coming to the end of his career.

    Now he does pre-match punditry on ITV. I have a sweepstakes going with one of my friends as to when he'll not be able to take it any more and headbutt Adrian Chiles square in the face. Give it another month.

2. Wayne Rooney

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    Despite earning himself such a high place in this list, Rooney is actually one of the special few who managed to have a major falling out with Sir Alex and still survive as a United player.

    Last year it seemed as though United's star player would be out the door for, of all teams, Manchester City.

    I'm not going to lie, if the move had eventually happened and Rooney had teamed up with Tevez at City, I might well have considered abandoning football altogether.

    Thankfully that didn't happen, as it became very apparent that the feud wasn't really about being at the club, but more so about how much money Rooney wanted.

    Greedy? Yes. Traitorous? No.

    Still, the resulting war of words saw Fergie and Rooney nearly falling out to an unrepairable extent—with common sense only winning the day at the last possible minute.

    Rooney was eventually given the massive pay raise that he demanded and has recently come out with the rather obvious revelation that falling out with Sir Alex was the biggest mistake he has ever made in his career (as if this list wasn't proof enough of that without him saying it).

    Rooney also said that he intends to stay at Manchester United for the rest of his career or at least as long as they want him.

    See, sometimes these things do have a happy ending after all! 

1. David Beckham

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    I think most people who have any sort of footballing knowledge probably knew who would be topping the No.1 spot on this list before they even started to read the article.

    As a kid, David Beckham was my absolute hero and idol. From '98 to '02 I had a Manchester United shirt with "Beckham 7" on the back.

    I'm looking at one of those shirts right now actually, and it brings back a lot of good memories about when the world's most famous footballer ever used to play for the club.

    Don't let the glitz and glamour of Hollywood fool you; there was a time when David Beckham wasn't just famous, but he was actually one of the best in the game.

    It was an injury in 2002 that started Beckham on his downward spiral at United. During his time away from the club, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had adopted his regular position on the right of the midfield.

    When Beckham came back he (rather arrogantly) expected Ole to be instantly benched for him. But Fergie had other ideas—after all Solskjaer had done a good job in his absence.

    Eventually Beckham did earn his way back into the side, but in the meantime, tensions had risen between the England man and his manager.

    The arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy also took a lot of the spotlight away from D-Beck, who slowly began to fall more and more out of favour with the top men at the club.

    After a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup, Beckham and Ferguson had to be restrained from one and other after Fergie "accidentally" kicked a boot into his right-midfielder's face.

    I think deep down I knew at this point that it was curtains for Becks at United.

    A few months later he signed with Real Madrid and was gone from Old Trafford forever.

    An interesting pattern here though:

    Beckham fights with Fergie because of Ruud—leaves for Madrid.

    Ruud fights with Fergie because of Ronaldo—leaves for Madrid

    Ronaldo falls out with Fergie publicly—leaves for Madrid.

    At least somebody is making the most of these arguments!

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