Rio Ferdinand reveals how Manchester United’s legendary former boss Sir Alex Ferguson would watch training sessions from the sidelines while ‘speaking to his BOOKIE about which horse he’s backing’Rio Ferdinand played under manager Sir Alex Ferguson from 2002 to 2013 The defender revealed how Ferguson would speak to his bookie during sessionsFerguson still remains one of the greatest managers in the history of the game Ferdinand says Carlos Queiroz was a ‘balancing act’ for ‘maverick’ FergusonHe also revealed Rene Meulensteen was his best ‘one-to-one coach’ at the clubBy Kieran Lynch For Mailonline
Published: 13:48 EDT, 2 August 2021 | Updated: 14:28 EDT, 2 August 2021
Rio Ferdinand has told the story of how Sir Alex Ferguson would be speaking to his bookie during Manchester United training sessions about which horse he was going to back.
Ferguson is one of the greatest managers in the history of the game and won 38 trophies during his 26 years at the helm at Old Trafford.
The legendary manager rarely took control of training sessions, leaving it to his coaches including Carlos Queiroz and Rene Meulensteen.
Rio Ferdinand revealed Sir Alex Ferguson would ‘speak to his bookies’ during training sessions
Ferdinand played under Sir Alex during one of the club’s best periods in their history
And Ferdinand said on his ‘Rio Ferdinand Presents Five’ podcast: ‘Fergie never took sessions.
‘He obviously did the talking and setting up of the sessions with the coaches before we went out and trained and then he’d just stand on the sidelines and observe the individuals, team, situations, the mood, the pace and intensity of training.’
When asked if Fergie would be saying anything during his observations, Ferdinand added: ‘He’s speaking to his bookie about which horse he’s backing. That’s the person he has most conversation with.
‘Every now and again before the session he’d gather us in, maybe ahead of a big game at the weekend or after a result and say, “listen guys that game is out of your system now, I want a hard session”. So he wouldn’t be talking too much about the detail.’
In his podcast, Ferdinand also revealed what it was like to work with coaches Mike Phelan, Queiroz and Meulensteen.
When asked about Phelan he responded: ‘He was there more for the manager.
‘Understanding and checking, maintaining of standards and making sure the manager was abreast of everything in terms of little details going on, the subtle things.
Ferdinand said Mike Phelan was Ferguson’s ‘eyes and ears’ during his time at Old Trafford
Carlos Queiroz played a balancing act for Ferguson in his two spells at Manchester United
‘He wasn’t someone who took a lot of sessions either. He was the eyes and ears of the manager which I didn’t understand at the beginning but by the end I did with age and maturity.’
Queiroz had two spells at United from 2002-2003 and 2004-2008, with a year in charge of Real Madrid in-between.
Ferdinand said: ‘Carlos was probably the balancing act for the manager who was a bit of a maverick and smell a situation and just go with it.
‘Carlos was a bit more pragmatic and would say, “let’s think about this, this situation is going to happen in a game, lets bide our time so we’re solid and we’re strong”.
‘He was brilliant, the best manager for transition. We did a lot of sessions that were repetitive and based about how we win the ball and going into the heart of the other team and killing them with movement and rotations.
‘If you look at the team when he was coach, we were resolute, we could fight anybody, run against anybody and play against anybody.’
Ferdinand says Rene Meulensteen was the best ‘one-to-one’ coach he ever worked with
Meulensteen spent six years at Old Trafford from 2007-2013, replacing Queiroz as assistant manager in 2008.
When asked about the Dutchman, Ferdinand said: ‘Rene was the best one-to-one coach I ever worked with.
‘With him we were just doing a lot of game experience training so you’re visualising the game, the ball comes to you and someone’s on the move somewhere and you’ve got to find them. Stuff like that he was brilliant for me.
‘He was so different to Carlos but still really good. His sessions were always thought provoking.
‘Maybe the balance from attack to defence wasn’t as fine tuned as Carlos but we were successful when he was there.’
The former Manchester United manager who retired in 2013 is an avid racing fan and owner