Sir Alex Ferguson Reveals Secret of Managing Manchester United to Harvard

Mark Patterson@@MarkPattersonBRUK Staff WriterSeptember 10, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Sir Alex Ferguson addresses the crown from an open-top bus at the start of their Barclays Premier League Trophy Parade through Manchester on May 13, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has collaborated on a piece in the Harvard Business Review in which he explains the secrets of managing the Premier League giants.

Of course, Ferguson retired at the end of last season having led United to the Premier League title, and bowed out after 26 years in charge.

In 2012, he lectured students on his methods at the Ivy League university, and subsequently worked with Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse on a piece which has now appeared in the Harvard Business Review.

The Daily Telegraph says that the piece reads "like a dossier of do’s and don’t’s for any manager aiming to be a success – both at United and elsewhere."

Undeniably, Ferguson's approach will make fascinating reading for United fans and those with an interest in football. But the fact that his blueprint appears in a business/academic publication is an interesting reflection of the times, where football is a business rather than purely a sport, and Ferguson's ideas have relevance for those working in multi-national companies.

And for those who wonder how he would deal with a character like the unsettled Wayne Rooney, there are a few hints within:

One of the things I’ve done well over the years is manage change. I believe that you control change by accepting it. That also means having confidence in the people you hire. [...]

The most important thing is to not stagnate. I said to David Gill a few years ago, "The only way we can keep players at Manchester United is if we have the best training ground in Europe." That is when we kick-started the medical center. We can’t sit still.

Most people with my kind of track record don’t look to change. But I always felt I couldn’t afford not to change. 

David Moyes might have the ear of Ferguson, who still serves as a director at Old Trafford, but he could do worse than to read the whole piece for himself.

Speaking of which, you can read the full article here.