Alex Ferguson has seen a lot during his time at United. One player drove Fergie so insane he wanted to hit him.
When you think of Manchester United’s great times, you think of Sir Alex Ferguson. Nobody has shaped the Red Devils like “Fergie”, nobody since has been able to achieve the success he celebrated with United from 1986 to 2013.
The Scotsman stood on the sidelines at Old Trafford for almost 30 years and watched players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham become world stars. The Brazilian Anderson probably also hoped to be named in this series one day when he moved to Manchester in 2007.
United paid almost 24 million euros for the midfielder from FC Porto. He only won the Golden Boy Award in 2005, but when he arrived in Manchester Anderson drove the otherwise so serene Sir Alex to the brink of despair – so much so that Ferguson almost became violent, like his former fitness trainer Mick Clegg The Athletic betrayed.
Anderson drove Ferguson to the brink of despair
“You couldn’t find a nicer person than Anderson – he was popular with everyone – but he was a slacker. He always had his excuses. I had a stick and I said to Alex Ferguson very early on, ‘If he keeps this up, I will hit him with my friggin’ stick,'” said Clegg, who oversaw fitness for the United stars between 2000 and 2011.
Ferguson couldn’t believe his ears as the coaching specialist recalled: “Fergie couldn’t believe it. ‘Don’t you dare. It cost me a lot of money. You can’t beat one of my players, are you crazy?'”
But Ferguson’s pacifist attitude didn’t last long: “Six weeks later, Fergie came to me. ‘Where’s the friggin’ stick?’ he asked. ‘Give me the stick. I want to hit it,'” Clegg continued.
Anderson failed to live up to his potential: ‘He was a party animal’
Anderson remained at Manchester until 2014 but was never able to reach his full potential. In 181 appearances for the club, the 33-year-old scored nine goals, and his lack of fitness remained a constant issue. After seven years, he left the Red Devils on loan to AC Fiorentina before joining the Brazilian first division club Internacional on a permanent basis in 2015.
His former fitness trainer Clegg regrets Anderson’s limited success and mainly attributes his lack of discipline to the cause. “Anderson was more than capable of being an absolute top player. He just had to get his way,” he said.
However, Clegg has little empathy for Anderson: “He didn’t keep fit. He decided not to work, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for him. He was a party animal.”
Manchester United: Anderson ended his career in 2019
After three years in his native Brazil, Anderson moved to the Turkish first division club Adana Demirspor in 2018. There he ended his career after just one season at the age of 31.
Anderson never became one of Ferguson’s protégés, but even without using sticks the former Brazil international can call himself a four-time English champion, Champions League winner and club world champion thanks to his time in Manchester.