There have been no shortage of stories told down through the years about Alex Ferguson's brilliance, but it seems clear that perhaps his best trait was his man management. The Scot had the ability to get the best out of every one of his players, so much so that they would run through a brick wall for him.
On the occasions that they did doubt tactical or personnel decisions that Ferguson made, he was usually proven right in the end. Rio Ferdinand gave one such example while appearing on BT Sport last night.
It came in April of 2010, when Manchester United were about to host Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League quarter final tie. They entered the game trailing 2-1 after the game in Germany, meaning they knew they had to score at Old Trafford.
While many would have assumed Ferguson would perhaps go with an extra attacker in order to make the team a bit more dangerous, the change he made was to bring in 23-year old Darron Gibson. The Irish midfielder had only started two games in the previous four months in all competitions.
Ferdinand said the decision to bring him into the team confused the players. You can probably guess what happened next.
"I remember Sir Alex picking Darron Gibson against Bayern and we needed to score goals."
"Within two minutes he scored!" 😂@rioferdy5 recalls a time when he was proven wrong by the former Man Utd boss' team selection...#Club2020 pic.twitter.com/QsVFaeC44p
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 7, 2020
It wasn't so much about myself. Sometimes he would pick a team and you would see a young lad come in.
Darron Gibson came in once and he wasn't a regular starter. No disrespect to Darron Gibson, but we were all sitting there thinking 'we're playing Bayern Munich at home, we need to go out there and score goals, how is he playing him?'
Within two minutes Darron goes and scores the first goal. You look at the bench and think 'this geezer is a genius'.
It was some goal too.
Unfortunately for Manchester United, that goal would not be enough to stop them from exiting the competition. They won the game 3-2, but would go out on away goals.
As for Gibson, he would spend another 18 months at Old Trafford before departing for Everton. It's fair to say he hasn't really reached those heights since.