Mino Raiola tells a story that gives a good insight into Alex Ferguson when he was Manchester United manager.
Mino Raiola is one of the most influential agents in football. As the man backing up the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Mario Balotelli among others, he has played a part in some of the most significant moves in recent football history. Anyone who read Ibrahimovic's book will have enjoyed the at times almost caricaturistic portrayal of Raiola by the big Swede. Clearly Raiola is a bit of a character, and that is something that clearly comes across in an excellent interview with him by Simon Kuper in the 'Financial Times'.
Any little insight one gets into the hidden workings of football and the characters within the game is always interesting, and Raiola told Kuper of one occasion when he was trying to thrash out a new deal for Paul Pogba with Alex Ferguson during his last spell at Manchester United. Ferguson and Raiola didn't see eye to eye, it's fair to say.
Ferguson to Raiola: I don’t talk to you if the player is not here. Raiola: Get the player out of the locker room and sit him here. Pogba enters. Ferguson to Pogba: You don’t want to sign this contract? Pogba: We’re not going to sign this contract under these conditions. Ferguson to Raiola: You’re a twat.
Raiola continues to push Fergie, who responds once more with that famous 'Govan wit' of his.
Raiola: This is an offer that my chihuahuas — I have two chihuahuas — don’t sign. Ferguson: What do you think he needs to earn? Raiola: Not that. Ferguson: You’re a twat.
Intriguingly Mino Raiola says that Pogba chose to join Juventus against Raiola's advice - "this maybe isn't a good step for you" - and, when asked why, told his agent:
Because in my life I have always chosen the hardest path. This was the hardest path.
As Kuper points out, Pogba would go on to win four straight Italian titles at Juventus, perhaps justifying his decision. As for the interaction with Fergie, it is interesting that the Scot turned not to Pogba but to Raiola with his fury.
Give the full piece by Simon Kuper a read here - a typically brilliant effort and excellent with a cup of tea.